Another day that was warm enough for gardening outside, highs in the mid forties. Yippeee!! According to last year’s journal, the hellebore leaves were cut on Janaury 22. Close enough, January 18, you have to work when the weather permits. The buds are already showing their color. Better get to work.
This is the big mama, mother of most of the hellebores, Helleborus orientalis. This plant was mail ordered in 1998 from White Flower Farm while we were living in a suburb of Houston, Texas. It was planted in the garden there and grew for two years. When we moved back to TN in 2000, it was part of the Noah’s ark of plants that were dug up and loaded in the car for the fourteen hour drive to their new home.
It has been written in previous posts that the hellebores produce abundant seedlings. These must be this year’s crop, still only showing their first leaves. The old flowers are never removed from the mothers. They just disappear under the umbrella of large leaves as the season progresses. The exact method of germination is unclear, although more babies come when mulch has been applied during the summer. They probably need darkness to sprout.
The old leaves have been cut from big mama, seen in the upper right corner of this photo. All the rest of the greenery here are baby hellebores of various ages. A wealth of hellebore seedlings.
The reason for the leaf cutting now, even though there are many below freezing days ahead of us before spring , is to keep from damaging the budded stems. If we wait any longer, the buds will be taller, making it very difficult to avoid severing them as the old leathery leaves are pruned away. I know from experience not to wait for warmer temps. Many a flower has been lost accidently, felco sharpness does not differentiate between leaf and flower buds. If the leaves are not cut, the flowers are hidden beneath them. We want to see all those lovely blooms without tattered foliage spoiling the scene. It is a winter chore that is actually happily done. Spring is coming when you see those pudgy buds.
You might think the cold will damage these fresh leaves and buds, but that is not the case. On occasion the leaf tips might get a little frost burn, but the open flowers cover that. The blooms themselves don’t seem to be damaged, even when fully open and late frosts hit the area.
Surrounding big mama are numerous little mamas. Seedlings abound under each flowering size plant, given light as the mature leaves are removed in winter. Yes one has to crawl around to cut each old leaf but it is not an unpleasant task and well worth the effort. Nobody said gardening does not take effort. If they did, they are not being truthful.
Here is sheared big mama with her little ones hovering around. Such a difference in the amount of space taken up by her when the leaves are gone. When in full leaf this plant is easily three feet in diameter. The babies enjoy the protection from that canopy.
March 23, 2007
Big mama in her full glory. Take note of her color, it is a pale greeny pink. The seed order from Chilterns containing the black/purple/slate shades will hopefully produce dark colored hellebores that will really set her off, don’t you think?
My name is Frances and I am a lifelong gardener, having lived in various parts of the USA over many years. I am now gardening in USDA Zone 7a east Tennessee. From 2000 to 2014 I was gardening on a slope in a small town in Tennessee. I have been blogging about my gardens since December of 2007. Thank you for visiting!