March 24th, 2010

Last week I promised you hellebores and didn’t deliver them. Shame on me. Here they are.

Hellebores floating in a bowl

Pine Knot & Royal Heritage Hellebores

They’re my same-old-same-old Pine Knot and Royal Heritage hybrids planted several years ago. I still haven’t learned to love hellebores, but the breeders are making it easier with more vivid colors and double flowers. I think it’s the colors I have trouble with. So many of the pinks, especially the mauve-y ones,  just look muddy (indistinct, wishy-washy, faded, not pretty) to me.

And my trouble with the colors may be due to the way I’ve been buying them – mail order. Graham Rice gives the following advice about buying hellebores on his very comprehensive website:

Some nurseries take a more relaxed approach, simply collecting seed from good plants which have been bee-pollinated and giving them names like Royal Heritage, Ballards Strain or giving the name of a clone to seed collected from open pollinated plants. The results, however, can be highly unpredictable. So the best advice, unless you’re prepared to take a chance, is to visit a nursery and choose plants in flower.

But the colors irk me more in the garden than in the house. Snip off a few florets right where they meet the flower stalk, fill a bowl with water, float the flowers on the water, and now you have something attractive.

Hellebore flowers floating in a bowl

The best way to admire hellebore flowers

8 Responses to “Hellebores”

  1. I’ve heard before that you can “float” hellebores like you do roses, but have never tried it. How long do the blooms last this way in a bowl?

    • entangled says:

      Kim, I know they’ll last 3 or 4 days, but I think they could go much longer depending on how mature they are when you cut them. Some of the ones in the photo have now dropped their anthers, but the tepals are still in good shape.

  2. Hellebores may be old hat to you, but they’d be a novelty to me, Entangled. I waited 3 years for a plant to bloom in IL, saw it bloom once and then left for Texas where I was told they could never grow.

    But recently a few Austin gardeners have posted hellebore pictures so maybe I’ll try again. You make a good point about the muddiness of the pinks, but they do look pretty floating!

    Is the RSS feed the only way to get an update when someone else comments or you answer? Must say getting the replies as email seems easier – guess I’m just used to Blogger!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    PS posted it 10 days late, but there’s a list of what is blooming today on Annie’s Addendum

    • entangled says:

      Annie, were you disappointed in your hellebore when it did bloom?

      I dunno. They’re early and relatively easy to grow (here in the mid-Atlantic anyway) and that’s all nice, but I’m still not excited about them. The Royal Heritage plant, which I’ve had the longest, is now a good-sized clump and I like it better the larger it gets. When it was small, those mauve-y flowers were just about invisible in the garden.

      I’ll look into the email comment follow-up. I think I may need to install some extra software to get it. I’m supposed to be getting email notifications of comments here and so far I only get them occasionally. Still have a lot to learn about WordPress.

  3. Wendy says:

    You’re so right about floating them so we can really enjoy the nodding blooms. I agree about mail order too. I THOUGHT I purchased some deep maroons, pale pinks, deep blues – turns out they’re basically all that mauvey color you mention. Now I do happen to like that color, but I hoped for some variety!

    • entangled says:

      Wendy, you just reminded me of something else that I don’t really like about hellebores – the downward facing flowers. I’m thinking of so many photos I’ve seen on blogs where there’s a hand holding the flower up so it can be photographed. I even did that myself a few times. I’ve been meaning to go to Pine Knot Farms yearly open house for about the last 3 years to try to buy some in bloom, but still haven’t made it there.

  4. I can’t get enough of hellebores… and although breeders are developing strains that are looking up, to me part of their charm is that they nod. Thanks for the reminder about floating them up though… that’s a very pretty touch.

    • entangled says:

      Sylyie, I’ve lately noticed that some of the light-colored ones are showing up better in the garden now that they’ve gotten larger and the rhododendron behind them is thicker. So I do like the nodding bell shape in that instance. I will work harder on hellebore appreciation 😉

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