If it’s January, it must be time to…*
Cut the hellebores, Helleborus orientalis, the only species of that genus that likes the conditions here at Casa Fairegarden.
It is a traditional ritual here, with a year taken off in 2010 just to see what would happen, when gardening tasks were trying to be eliminated from the schedule in the ongoing effort to minimize maintenance. Click here to read the post. The above photo, not for the weak of heart, shows the result of not cutting off those old, large leathery leaves. My apologies, it won’t happen again.
Cutting with hand held hedge clippers allows for the fastest cleanup. If executed before the new leaves and emerging flower buds get very tall, there is little loss of bloom. What that means in my garden, not forgetting that all gardening advice is local, local, local, is that now is the time to do the cutting. We wait for an above freezing day without snow cover.
The cuddleduds, smartwool socks, waterproof ski pants, heaviest turtleneck, polarfleece, waterproof jacket, sheepskin trapper hat, wool scarf and felt lined waterproof gloves are donned before going outside. Oh, don’t forget the muck boots. It’s a wonder a person can even move about with all of that gear on, let alone climb the hill, squat down to within an inch or two from the ground and bend over to cut, cut, cut. Who needs a gym membership with these types of chores on the agenda?
The population explosion of hellebores is due to the flinging of seeds by Big Mama, seen above in a 2008 vintage image, which has us now pulling out seedlings by the handfuls, spadefuls and shovelfuls. Note the patches of seedlings playing joyfully at her feet. Many of these were transplanted all over the garden in the early years to help fill up the blank spaces. We no longer do that since these babies have grown to become big mamas as well.
As nice as they are with the mid-winter blooming and weed suppressing evergreen foliage, this is not a monoculture garden. We want to grow some other things as well, so the battle rages on for control and dominance of the slope.
But the hellebores do have a secret weapon in the reproduction cycle.
*Leading off the photos of this post is the winner of the Hellebore Beauty Pageant held in 2011, Pinky. Click here to see all of the contestants. For those awaiting the Annual Viola Beauty Pageant, please stay tuned!