The Beauty of Hellebores

February 23, 2016 Daffodils 006

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Hellebores are one of the great joys of our winter garden.

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Each one is so different.  These are some of the most interesting and exotic flowers we grow.  They are even more special now, when most of the garden remains dormant.

Hellebores provide some of the earliest nectar and pollen for overwintering insects, too.

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Hellebores cross-pollinate and sow their seeds abundantly.  Areas where we first established them, more than four years ago now, sport a large crop of ‘volunteers.’

I’ve moved quite a few seedlings to new areas to expand our winter garden.  They  need to grow on for three years or more before they bloom.  Which makes the anticipation build to discover the unique colors and patterns of the seedlings’ blossoms.

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Cold and wind take their toll on last year’s evergreen foliage.  This is the time I begin cutting back the older leaves so the flowers and new leaves show better.

Always remember that Hellebores are highly poisonous.  I avoid handling the leaves or sap by wearing gloves.  Then those precious leaves are recycled anywhere we’ve been troubled by voles.  As they decompose into the Earth, they also offer that bit of the garden more protection from their tunneling.

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And the plants themselves protect the beds where they are planted.  No creatures dig or graze around them.  Every year they grow more beautiful, blooming so enthusiastically even in shade and less than perfect soil.

Hellebores have become some of my favorite plants in our Forest Garden.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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February 2, 2016 flowers 031

 

 

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

5 responses to “The Beauty of Hellebores

  1. They are so beautiful, delicate yet strong!

  2. With our gopher problem (kissing cousins of voles) I may need to plant lots more Hellebores to test your theory.

    • They are positively lethal, Rickii. Between those, and poisonous Daffodil roots, you can create a beautiful barrier against your gophers. I’ve even been known to drop Castor Beans down their little tunnels. One of those can kill a cow! Our best strategy has been juicy fruit or doublemint gum. We tear a stick, left in its paper wrapper, into 3 or 4 pieces. Each piece gets poked down a hole or into a tunnel. The scent attracts them, and you can imagine the rest…. Any excuse for more Hellebores, though, Rickii!

  3. Recycling the leaves as a vole deterrent is a fabulous tip! I must remember that for next year. It also explains why our resident pheasants remove the blooms but never eat them.

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