Saturday, 1 March 2014

My Hellebores

Today the meteorological spring starts here in Britain and although some people stubbornly keep to the astronomical start of spring, which is 21st March, here in London 1st of March is a good time to start talking about spring – the gardens and parks have usually started their spring flowers well before this date anyway.

Down at the bottom of my garden the woodland  plants are on their way up and most of the spring bulbs are in full flower.

The area with hellebores is growing every year, mostly because I can’t resist buying new hellebores, but also because I finally have some hellebore babies of a size that doesn’t need a magnifying glass.

I used to deadhead my hellebores the first few years, and the few seeds that did survive would just fall onto the lawn I used to have right next to them. After re-designing my garden, the hellebores got their own area where they can multiply and seed around as they want – for a while at least, it is amazing how many seeds one flower can produce!

I leave most of the seedlings in the ground, but there are too many in each place so I lift some of them and pot on and they are allowed to grow here on my nursery shelf. These are 2 years old and will not flower for another 2 years. Can’t wait to see what colour they will be, perhaps I will get something completely different to their parents?

And here is the first and only hellebore baby flower I have produced from seed so far! OK, I know it looks very ordinary, just plain, single and nothing special, but I have waited almost 5 years for this beauty to flower so it was certainly worth a photo and a celebration!

The double Helleborus hybridus are the most spectacular, this is 'Double White Spotted'  and 'Double White’.

And here is another double, Helleborus hybridus 'Double Slaty Blue' together with the brilliant white Helleborus niger. In my garden, Helleborus niger is much later than all the Helleborus hybridus, one of my two Helleborus niger isn’t properly flowering yet. I think that’s a bit strange, as Helleborus niger is supposed to be the early one.

Bottom left is Helleborus hybridus 'Double Ellen Picotee', although to me that is not a double hellebore, but that’s how it was labelled. The other three are the original three hellebores I got exactly 10 years ago in March 2004. I have since successfully split the white freckled as it stopped flowering, but the other two are still going strong so I haven’t touched them yet. The bottom right (in bud and in flower) is the hellebore that also flowers in the summer, with pink flowers, if you haven’t read my posts and seen the photos, please have a look here and you can read all about my summer flowering hellebore.

Some close-ups of the collection.

I spent the day filming my garden, I haven’t done that for ages and today was a good day for it. I hope you enjoy going for a stroll in the spring weather in my tiny garden - and let me just say one thing; in all the years I have been gardening here, I have never had camellias and fuchsias in flower at the same time!




The music was ‘In Paradisum’ from Faur√© Requiem, D minor, op 48.


My cat is enjoying the nice warm weather too and is always outside in the garden with me – often being the ‘deputy head gardener’ and walking behind me wherever I go.  He is digging a bit here, digging a bit there and basically trying to be helpful, although the spring bulbs are flying around as he is digging - and I have to try my best to tuck them back into the flowerbeds as quickly as I can.

Can you just see how he is enjoying the sun?

And when the sun has gone down and there is a chill in the air, it’s time to hog the lovely fleece throw and just have a chill-out.

It’s a hard life being the deputy head gardener.

I hope you are having signs of spring in your garden too, and if you are on the other side of the world, I hope you had a good summer so you can face autumn and whatever it may bring. Until next time, take care.

I am linking this post to Mosaik Monday at Mary’s Little Red House.

56 comments:

  1. Your garden looks beautiful, so many spring flowers packed in there. I love your cat, such cute photos. No spring here just more very unusual cold weather and another six inches of snow on Monday. Four degrees F two nights ago, I don't have the strength to conver that to C.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carolyn, I am sorry to hear you have more snow in wait for you, I hope the spring will be great once it turns up!
      Have a great week!

      Delete
  2. Your hellebores are gorgeous, Helene. I'm not surprised you can't help buying new ones. They would be one of my first purchases if I could grow cold climate plants here. I think my favourites are the double spotted and slaty blue, and the single white - but they are all beautiful. Puss looks very happy enjoying the sunshine after all the rain you have had.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marisa, the ‘problem’ with hellebores is that there are so many lovely varieties to buy! I hope my new double varieties will produce babies with completely new markings and colours, time will tell – in about 4-5 years :-)

      Delete
  3. Love the hellebores! I had seedlings pop up this year for the first time but I didn't realise they take 5 years to flower. Well, they will save me some money if I can wait that long without buying any more (I have the same affliction as you!) Your doubles are just gorgeous, I don't have any like that so I'll most likely have to buy some at some stage :)
    Autumn has arrived here and we've already had a cold snap with more forecast for this week. I'm not liking our chances for a mild winter...
    Happy spring to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ruth, hellebores usually take 4 years, or if you count from when the seed was dropped the autumn before, 4 ½ years. I suppose you might get lucky and have some flowering year early, but this is why mature hellebores are relatively expensive.
      I hope you get a good winter, not like the ones we have had!

      Delete
  4. What a sweet cat :o). Your helleborus are gorgeous. I spotted yesterday the first helleborus that must have grown by seed, it has small red spots inside a white flower... and I haven't planted it. But there are many different kinds of helleborus in my garden and I guess the bees have helped a bit by coloring that one.
    By the way, although we've got spring, some snowflakes are playing around in our sky. Grmpf... could make it without them. But luckily the soil is already to warm, that the snow will melt instantly.
    Have a lovely Sunday
    Alex

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alex, Isn’t it exciting to find a hellebore born and bred from your own seed?! The next 2-3 years I expect to find many more and in 5 years time I suppose I will be throwing out seedlings as there will be no more space in the flowerbed!
      Have a good week!

      Delete
  5. Beautiful - lots of flowers and colour with seasons mixing. I hope the bumble bees are around in our garden when the early fruit starts to flower.

    I don't suppose you can train a cat to stay of the borders can you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sue, I have seen bumblebees in my garden since early January, there seem to be lots around already.
      I don’t think I could train my cat to stay out of the beds, if I was going to I would have to train him to stay out of the garden completely and I certainly don’t want to do that, I like his company :-)
      No, I am happy to take the work clearing up after him, it’s just at this time of year it is a bit of a nuisance, later in the spring and the rest of the year all my beds are so filled with plants that he can’t really mess about like he does now.

      Delete
  6. Your spring garden is just a heaven on earth and your cute cat knows he is living in a paradise. I enjoyed the flowers on your film and saw your first Camellia blooms. At the same time as in my garden where I saw yesterday the first buds of the Camellia opened. I saw in my garden new seedlings of Hellebores, I have already so many, but I cannot resist to pot them up again, like you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Janneke, lovely to hear your camellia is in flower too – now it is spring! I hope to get some seeds on the double hellebores this year so I can get seedlings to save next spring. I have several people waiting for some seedlings here but it is a long time to wait to see what kind of flowers we get :-)

      Delete
  7. I can see why you consider it to be spring down there Helene - although I do wait til the end of the month before I consider it spring here.
    Your hellebore collection is to die for! Have you looked at the H x ericsmithii hybrids? I've just bought a new one 'Pirouette' - they are lovely and just a wee bit different too.
    Are those Cyclamen the annual type or perennial ones - not that it matters but they are beautiful. Enjoyed the video - it was good to see your spring garden come to life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can appreciate it doesn’t really feel like spring in Scotland yet, we are a bit earlier down here :-)
      I have looked at ericsmithii hybrids, only my bank account is stopping me from getting everything I want but these two have been on my wish list for the last year: H. ericsmithii ‘Pink Frost’ and H. ericsmithii ‘Shooting Star’. I would love to have them both!

      All cyclamens are perennials, they grow from a bulb and will come back after a dormant period during the summer. The reason why some cyclamens are labelled annual is that they are not frost hardy so they will not tolerate below 0C or below -5C or below -10C, depending of which type they are. I have a mix of hardy and non hardy, but in my garden they all survive the winter and come again year after year, I haven’t bought a cyclamen for the last 5 years at least, and at the end of the flowering season I let the last few flowers set seed and leave them to scatter where they want. I get so many seedlings I don’t know what to do with them!

      Delete
  8. Oh Helene- your Hellebores and Crocus all look so lovely and spring is definitely there. I love the photos of your deputy head gardener...yes what a life! We have more snow on the way this evening but spring will be here soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lee, I don’t envy you the snow, I hope spring will arrive in your garden as soon as possible, I bet you are fed up of all the snow by now!
      Have a great week :-)

      Delete
  9. Like you I have a good many hellebore seedlings on the go.. I will still have to wait another couple of years before they flower though. I am not a great fan of doubles of anything, but I've seen so many double hellebores on blogs and at garden centres this year and have to say I am now smitten.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many unusual hellebores, both single and double, I just can’t stop collecting! And when all of them start producing seed I hope to get a whole new collection of plants with a mix of everything :-)

      Delete
  10. You work so hard at making this garden a success, Helene, and all that had work really pays off. It's so beautiful. And just at a time when Eastern North America is so longing for Spring, your photos give us hope that eventually our gardens will have just as many flowers and blooms. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Astrid, it doesn’t really feel like work you know, I go out in the garden to potter about when I want to relax :-) I hope spring will come to you soon, and be really glorious, to make up for the rotten long winter you have had!

      Delete
  11. I love the Helleborus too Helene. It were the first 3 plants which came in my garden17 years ago. My picotee one is still a small one. I noticed they don't like to be removed often. And that's what I did with that one. I have so many seedlings that I don't know what to do with it anymore. I love the colorexplosion they bring after the dark wintery days.
    Have a wonderful day Helene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marijke, I have successfully moved my hellebores several times, but always in late autumn, perhaps it matters when you do it? That’s also when I split my non-flowering oldest hellebore, last year, and this year it is flowering again. I am not sure what to do with all my seedlings either, I hope to be able to give away some when they reach flowering stage.

      Delete
  12. Kitty looks so cozy in the warm, plush blanket. You have an amazing collection of Hellebores! I could look at the pictures all day. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Beth, hellebores have become a bit of an obsession – well, along with all the other obsessions I have in my garden!

      Delete
  13. Beautiful collections! If I can grow it here, I will collect a lot of varieties. Over all, your garden looks so wonderful, of course your Kitty too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure if you could grow them where you live Endah, I think it is too hot, and not cold enough during the winter, sorry!

      Delete
  14. I really enjoyed seeing your lovely garden and flowers. We are only seeing snow here and cold temperatures. Cute kitty. Lovely images, thanks for sharing. Happy a happy day and week ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks – and welcome to my blog! I hope spring will arrive soon for you :-)

      Delete
  15. These are gorgeous hellebores, mine are still buried under 3 feet of snow. Thank your for sharing yours. Enjoy your week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, and welcome to my blog, I feel for you having that much snow, I still haven’t seen any snow or frost this winter – hope it won’t arrive in March, that would be too silly!

      Delete
  16. Love seeing your hellebores, I have some in my garden too but we are still cold and frozen here. Spring feels very far off….. Thanks for sharing, Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Laura, and welcome to my blog, we have had a very mild winter, but my garden is mostly on time, not particularly early. The only peculiar thing is that I still have fuchsias in flower, from last year, but that’s due to the fact that there has been no frost.

      Delete
  17. Love your hellebores, I would be proud of the baby you grew from seed. It's always fun trying and suceeding. Have a great wek.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cathy, and welcome to my blog, my new baby has now got another white flower opened, I am going to take another picture tomorrow – yep, I am proud :-)

      Delete
  18. Gosh Helene, your garden is way ahead of ours in OXON. Must be a little micro-climate you have in London. Here, in Vancouver we have snowdrops and crocuses but everything else in still in tight bud. Even my hellebores are only just thinking about it. Oh well, another week or so to go. :) Hope your week is going to be a terrific one. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don’t use the USDA hardy system here in Britain, but London is zone 9. This winter we haven’t had any frost or snow so we have been more like in a zone 10 - and it is not uncommon to have winters like this from time to time. My garden is pretty much average in terms of what’s flowering right now, I have had years much earlier with most things. Today I spotted my magnolia starting to open its buds, not long before they are in full flower :-)
      Have a good week!

      Delete
  19. Oh! I enjoyed your garden tour so much -- it seems such a beautiful and magical place -- absolutely gorgeous. Do you use any kind of organic fertilizer? How do you make your plants produce so much flowers? I saw the bee and it brought back memories that gardens are supposed to look like this. I am forgetting that in this harsh winter.

    Your baby hellebore is beautiful -- I like white flowers and to me its very pretty and sublime. So, I think you should celebrate. So, here toasting some red wine to your hellebore celebration. You do have gorgeous hellebores. But my favorite was the crocus -- oh! I think I should buy all sorts of it. I love those flowers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, good to hear you enjoyed the tour :-)
      I hardly use fertilizers at all to be honest, I mulch a lot with bark chips in all my flower beds, which slowly decompose so it has to be topped up, but it serves many purposes. One is that I don’t need to weed my flower beds, another is that it saves on watering in the summer as water don’t evaporate so quickly, and it also looks great! And it mulches the plants and give a slow trickle of nutrition to all my plants, many which are acid loving plants so they like the bark mulch. In addition to this I give the larger, established plants slow release fertiliser once a year, in the spring. That’s it. I can’t be faffing about with fertilisers every week, or even every month. Once a year suits me very well!

      If you like white flowers you need to come back and see my all-white flower bed, it will flower for the first time this summer and autumn so I will be making a post about it, can’t wait to see it all coming together!

      Delete
  20. Helene, looks like London is well and truly into Spring, not bad here also. I can understand being excited at your first Hellebore seedling in flower, plain or not it will probably be your favourite. We had just got back into Hellebores again, then we end up leaving them behind, I will definitely be planting some in the Autumn. Not many of us can say we have Camellias and Fuchsias blooming at the same time. Just planted a couple of Camellias in the front garden, one named Debbie and the other well its something like Contessa -------- Maggi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Alistair, I hope you’ll get your hellebore collection up and running again soon, there are so many lovely varieties, I have just bought a Helleborus ericsmithii 'Winter Sunshine', haven’t got any ericsmithii from before so I am quite excited about that. Your choices of camellias sounds great, I looked up ‘Debbie’, didn’t know it, a beautiful camellia. And Camellia 'Contessa Lavinia Maggi' is one I have looked at before, a white with pink stripes, really beautiful and a serious contender for my garden as it is a compact, slow grower and doesn’t grow too big. But ‘Takanini’ won the competition on early flowering and incredibly long flowering, and also frost tolerance. Next year I’ll tell you if it was a good choice!

      Delete
  21. My hellebores haven't bloomed yet and they've been in the garden for a few years. They were given to me as seedlings from a friend. I finally cut the foliage back before our latest snow storm and I'm hoping they finally bloom this year. Except for the ones I planted last fall, I have no idea what color the other hellebores will be. Yours are beauties! Your cat looks quite content to supervise and relax. :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s the beauty of growing things from seed that doesn’t come true, the excitement of not knowing if it will be a true beauty or just something ordinary! I hope your hellebores will flower for you this spring so you don’t have to wait any longer, but they can take 4 ½ years from seed collection to first flower, depending on how the seedling have been nurtured. Those we buy at nurseries have probably skipped at least a year or two, but I think they grow them under grow lights and with special grow mediums – not sure really - in the garden, left on their own the hellebore babies certainly need time and patience :-)

      Delete
  22. Beautiful flowers, Helene, but I didn't realised that it takes few years for hellebores to flower! I guess I am too inpatient to wait that long and will be planting tulips and daffodils;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can always buy them ready in flower from nurseries and garden centres, I have a few I have bought, but I find it fascinating to grow them myself too :-)

      Delete
  23. Hi Helene, I know this is a post about your hellebores, but I first have to say that I really enjoyed seeing the video that you took of your garden! Spring has certainly arrived there and it looks just wonderful. I especially loved your small red filled camellia in the little black container. What a beauty! But now to the hellebores. No matter how many I have seen already in the blog world I never get tired of them. You also can't get bored of them, because there are so many different ones. In your garden I especially love the double white ones. Gosh, I didn't know that it takes so long before a hellebores seedling is flowering. Your first white one that you have grown from a seedling is very lovely. I like its simplicity and purity very much. You are truly a patient gardener nurturing it for almost 5 years until it bloomed for the first time. Bravo!
    Christina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Christina, glad you liked my video, the dark red camellia is called ‘Takanini’ and I have high hopes for it, apparently it can flower for up to 8 months when a bit more mature than mine! I don’t consider 4-5 years an awful long time to nurture plants from seed to flower, I do the same with the lilies I grow from seeds, and also cyclamens, trilliums and arisaemas. Fortunately none of them need much fussing over while they grow – they all grow outside and just need water.

      Delete
  24. A hasty note to remind you there will be a link box for Tree Following posts on Loose and Leafy tomorrow (March 7th). It'll stay open for seven days.
    http://looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk/
    Lucy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the reminder, I have been taking photos for my post the last couple of days, I will be posting tomorrow :-)

      Delete
  25. I enjoyed reading your post, Helene! The first photo is pretty well, bright crocuses. Helebores are wonderful the most I liked your hellebore baby flower, because you waited 5 year to see blooming and the difficult child is always the best!
    Your cat that speaks Norwegian, loves sun very much and warm blanket in chilly weather!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nadezda, I hope there will be many more hellebore children to come, hopefully with lovely flowers, they just need to grow a few more years. My cat has been outside with me in the garden today too, sleeping o my zebra fleece throw :-)

      Delete
  26. Love the "deputy head gardener". A hard life indeed! Seeing your hellebores in bloom I wish I had more plants and I variety of colors. So far I have just two. It is certainly an act of patience to see the seedlings flower, but well worth the wait.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jennifer, if you have two hellebores you should be able to get plenty of seedlings next year if you leave the flowers on and don’t deadhead them this spring. The seeds won’t be ready to drop until late autumn so you have to put up with the dried/dead flowers – but you don’t have to save all of them, just have a look after a month or so and see which one that carries seeds, save two or three on each plant and cut off the rest. When the seeds drop they will fall nicely around the plants and that’s where the seedlings will grow up the following spring. And 3-4 years after that they will flower and you have lots of free hellebores. You can carefully lift and move some of the seedlings after a year as they often get too congested where the seeds drop – that way you can expand your hellebore area. I hope you’ll have lots of hellebores in a few years time :-)

      Delete
  27. Like you, I'm a Hellebore addict. Until my first winter here, I didn't see the point. The flowers mostly faced down and seemed a bit drab. But when they were the only flowers opening up in the snow, I became a convert! And I can't resist buying new ones each year. I also love that one photo of your cat. She seems almost to be smiling into the sun (and cats don't usually smile, in my experience). Lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can safely say I am addicted to hellebores too, can’t resist buying new ones and I have just this week bought two new ones!

      Delete
  28. I love Hellebores too! I bought a new variety 'Apricot Blush' last month at our PNW Flower and Garden show. Can't wait to get it growing. I love the photo at your header to your blog with the hellebore and snowdrops! Great shot! And after 5 years of waiting for a bloom I'd be super excited too! Love your deputy head gardener...too cute. Thanks for sharing your fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, my cat is great company and he definitely seems to be appreciating the warmer weather and the sunshine. I hope I will have lots of exciting new hellebore varieties in flower to share with my visitors the next few years when all the small seedlings get big enough to flower. I have no idea what colour they will turn out :-)

      Delete