Wednesday Vignettes: Winter Beginnings

Helleborus argutifolius 'Snow Fever' offering its first flowers of the season.

Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’ offering its first flowers of the season.

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“Those who love much, do much

and accomplish much,

and whatever is done with love is done well….

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“… Love is the best and noblest thing

in the human heart, especially

when it is tested by life

as gold is tested by fire. …

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Magnolia stellata in bud

Magnolia stellata in bud

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“… Happy is he who has loved much,

and although he may have wavered and doubted,

he has kept that divine spark alive

and returned to what

was in the beginning and ever shall be….

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Mahonia aquifolia

Mahonia aquifolium coming into bloom with Magnolia liliiflora in bud

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“… If only one keeps loving faithfully

what is truly worth loving

and does not squander one’s love

on trivial and insignificant and meaningless things

then one will gradually

obtain more light and grow stronger.”

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Vincent Van Gogh

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Helleborus

Helleborus

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Cercis canadensis seedpod left by the wind

Cercis canadensis seedpod left by the wind

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“Go out in the woods, go out.

If  you don’t go out in the woods

nothing will ever happen

and your life will never begin.”

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Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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“Imagination makes the world
and all the wonders in it.
The seed of every dream unfurls
as you with love begin it!”

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Eric Micha’el Leventhal

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Blossom XVIII: Tough

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“We have not journeyed all this way

because we are made of sugar candy.”

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Winston S. Churchill

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“Anyone can be tough for a season.

It takes a special kind of human

to rise to life’s challenges for a lifetime.”


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Chris Matakas

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“If you’re looking for the easy challenge,

you’re not cut out for success.”


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T Jay Taylor

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“Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face

conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.”

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Greta Garbo

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Helleborus argutifolius 'Snow Fever'

Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’

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Do you often think of flowers as ‘tough’ ?  Likely not.

And yet look at these beautiful Hellebores blooming in our garden today.  So fragile looking, but tough enough to bloom in January.  These sheltered under the deep  snowfall when temperatures here dipped into the single digits two weeks ago.  That is extremely cold for coastal Virginia, but the Hellebores kept  on growing and even blooming despite their environment.

There is a lesson there for gardeners; perhaps for all of us.  Such beauty is an expression of itself.  It fulfills its own plan and promise.

Hellebores fill a special niche in our garden.  They are one of the toughest perennials we grow.  Their graceful evergreen leaves maintain a presence year round, through summer’s heat and drought as easily as through frigid winter days.  Their delicate veins and subtle shading express the same sort of athletic beauty as a ballerina.   And just when it looks like the garden has suffered defeat at winter’s hand, these wondrous flowers emerge from the frozen Earth.

And they last.  The cut flowers last a long time whether left growing out of doors or cut for a vase.  These plants will still be blooming when the garden has filled with Daffodils and Azalea next April.

A new neighbor and I were chatting today, and she asked me what perennial I would recommend for her front garden.  She has a wide sheltered bed near the street; an inviting  bed and breakfast for every rabbit and deer in the neighborhood.  It is shaded with a thick growth of native hollies and young hardwood trees.

I’ll be you know what advice I offered…. Hellebores.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

 

Blossom I
Blossom II
Blossom III
Blossom IV
Blossom V
Blossom VI
Blossom VII
Blossom VIII
Blossom IX
Blossom X
Blossom XI
Blossom XII
Blossom XIII
Blossom XIV
Blossom XV
Blossom XVI
Blossom XVII
Blossom XX

 

Wednesday Vignette: Beginnings

Arum italicum seedlings

Arum italicum seedlings

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“New month, new intentions,

new goals, new love, new light,

and new beginnings.”

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April Mae Monterrosa

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Transplanted...

Transplanted seedling…

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“Letting there be room for not knowing

is the most important thing of all.

When there’s a big disappointment,

we don’t know if that’s the end of the story.

It may just be the beginning

of a great adventure. Life is like that.

We don’t know anything.

We call something bad; we call it good.

But really we just don’t know.”

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Pema Chödrön

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“The key to a better life

isn’t always a change of scenery.

Sometimes it simply requires opening your eyes.”

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Richelle E. Goodrich

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New growth beginning to unfold on a Helleborus

New growth beginning to unfold on a Helleborus

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

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Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’

Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius “Snow Fever’ still in its nursery pot.

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Here is a tasty treat for Helleborus lovers: H. ‘Snow Fever.’ 

Known as a Corsican Lenten Rose, this beauty isn’t as cold hardy as some Lenten Rose varieties.  Its parents are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica, and it is rated for USDA zones 6-9.

The Helleborus argutifolius varieties may also be termed Corsican Hellebore or even holly leaf Hellebore.  They are large, bold plants with evergreen leaves which persist year round.  These leaves are thick, with toothed edges; but may grow tattered in severe winter winds and weather.  This beautiful H. ‘Snow Fever’ has variegated foliage with a touch of dark red on its stems and the edges of the leaves.  It is a lovely plant, even right out of the pot, and I was delighted to find it last week at a local garden center.

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Hellebores have found their way into my gardener’s heart because they not only look good year round, but they give a good long season of bloom when little else is actively growing, let alone blooming in our garden!  We already have flower buds on a few of our Helleborus plants, believe it or not.

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Helleborus already in bud this autumn in our garden.

Helleborus already in bud this autumn in our garden.

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Though most come into bloom sometime in February or March here, some bloom right through from late autumn until spring.  Our last Hellebores stop pumping out flowers sometime in late April or May.

Corsican Helleborus is known for its abundant clusters of  green flowers.  But this hybrid promises white flowers, with a shadow of green and lovely pink edges to each petal.  It will grow to around 12″ tall, a bit short for the species, but will expand to a wide clump of around 15″.

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Mid-March 2015

Mid-March 2015

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I’ve come to love growing Hellebores in pots surrounded with bulbs and Violas.  Sometimes I’ll tuck in an evergreen vine.  But these pots look good and remain in dynamic growth all through winter.  The plants still look good through the summer months long after the bulbs have died back and the Violas have finished.  Last summer I simply moved my best pot into the shade and planted some Caladium tubers around the Hellebore, and had a nice display through most of the summer.

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July 2016

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Alternatively,  if I want the pot for something else in late spring;  I’ll move a Helleborus out of its pot and into the ground where it can sink its roots into a permanent home.

These are close to ‘care-free’ perennials.  First, deer and rabbits won’t bother them.  Their leaves are not only tough, they are poisonous.  Every part of a Helleborus is poisonous, so they make a nice underground ‘fence’ of roots if you want to protect an area from voles or moles.

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But Hellebores also prove drought tolerant, tolerate mediocre soil, have few disease issues, need only annual pruning of older leaves, and tend to keep going year after year.  Although common advice dictates they grow best in shade, I’ve had a few keep going strong through the summer in nearly full sun.  That was a pleasant surprise!

The main drawback, for most Helleborus cultivars, is that their leaves aren’t that spectacular.  We grow them for their flowers and as a dependable ground cover plant.  As much as we gardeners love the flowers, pollinators depend on them as an important food source.  These flowers are ready to greet the first of the bees and other insects each year.

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Hellebores

Hellebores given to us as seedlings by a gardening friend.

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But just look at this beauty!  What unusual and eye-catching leaves!

My first one went into a favorite white pot which held geraniums all summer.  The geranium held out through the first frost, and so I rewarded it by re-potting it and bringing it into the garage for the winter.  I like spunky, tough plants!

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I’ve not finished dressing this pot yet, because I want to pick up a few Muscari bulbs to sink into the soil around the Helleborus’s roots before I finish it off with either moss or gravel.  At the moment, there is a bit of Creeping Jenny and  a few Viola starts taking root, which will soon begin to fill the pot with flowers.

I bought a second H. ‘Snow Fever’  on Saturday, and have now planted it in the huge pot where C. ‘Tea Cups’ grew all summer in the front garden.  The Colocasia’s roots will overwinter in a smaller pot indoors, waiting for their chance to head back outdoors next April.

I’ll find a permanent spot for both H. ‘Snow Fever’ in the garden in the spring;  but for now, I want to really enjoy them, up close and featured in  pots.

I’ve surrounded the second one with some starts of Ajuga ‘Black Scallop,’ some Creeping Jenny vines, and the Daffodil bulbs I left in the pot  last spring.  The Ajuga will keep growing all winter, give blue flowers in early spring, and end up transplanted into a garden bed in early summer.

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February 2016

February 2016

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I expect these two pots to give us a great deal of joy over these next few months.  You’ll probably see lots of photos of these special Hellebores as they grow and eventually bloom.

If you love Hellebores,  or are curious to know more about them, I recommend the excellent and beautifully illustrated article in the December Gardens Illustrated on new Helleborus cultivars.  Gardens Illustrated is an UK magazine, but is absolutely the best source for information on plants and horticulture I’ve found.  It doesn’t matter that it is UK based, as much of the information translates just fine to our East coast USA garden!  I like it even better than Fine Gardening, which also offers solid information and advice on garden design, and is based here in the United States.

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February 2016 Hellebores grow here with Autumn 'Brilliance' fern, which also remain evergreen through our winters.

February 2016 Hellebores grow here with Autumn ‘Brilliance’ fern, which also remain evergreen through our winters. Some of the Helleborus foliage shows wind and cold burn, and these older leaves should be removed in early spring to make room for new growth. 

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This is the time of year to shop for Hellebores.  You may not find any blooming, but you will definitely find them available in many garden centers in December.  They are pricey, and named cultivars generally have been grown on in greenhouses for at least a couple of years from tissue culture.  Variegated cultivars, like H. ‘Snow Fever’ may not be easy to find in all parts of the country.  But if you live in Zone 6 or warmer, you might want to try ordering from an online source to give this beautiful plant a try.

To simply get started with Hellebores, though, find a friend or  neighbor who has a patch growing in their garden, and ask whether they might like your help in thinning them.  Hellebores seed their offspring generously, and many gardeners are happy to share seedlings.  You may have to wait a season to see them bloom, but the wait is well worth the reward.

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Hellebores

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Woodland Gnome 2016

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Making Our Blessings Count

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful

for every good thing that comes to you,

and to give thanks continuously.

And because all things

have contributed to your advancement,

you should include all things

in your gratitude.”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Happy Thanksgiving day to you.  I hope it has been a good day, spent in a way that makes you happy and with folks you love.   Thanksgiving is a gentle holiday, and one that I especially enjoy.  I try to avoid travel and keep the day as low key as possible.

Whether at home with family, or gathered elsewhere with family, I’m always one of the cooks.  And I find satisfaction in creating a warm and satisfying meal filled with the flavors and memories which knit our years together into a seamless fabric of loving.

While we celebrate gratitude and appreciation on Thanksgiving Day, most of us are also gearing up for Christmas this time of year.  For many, that means sharpening up our shopping skills and compiling a list of holiday plans and desires.  Ironic, isn’t it?

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August's white flowers are transformed to seed heads, ready to begin again the life cycle of culinary chives.

August’s white flowers are transformed to seed heads, ready to begin again the life cycle of culinary chives.

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“We should certainly count our blessings,

but we should also make our blessings count.”

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Neal A. Maxwell

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Thanks-giving is not a passive thing.  It isn’t about leaning back in our comfy chairs and thinking happy thoughts.

It begins with awareness; progresses to acknowledgement;  stops for a moment to express appreciation and love to others; and then gets down to the real business of using those blessings for the greater good.

Having a blessing isn’t enough.  We find ways to  make use of the goodness it brings to our lives, to make our lives count for something.

I’ve always thought of appreciation as an active thing; an investment in more joy and productivity.  What good are seeds left in an envelope?

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“Great things happen to those

who don’t stop believing, trying,

learning, and being grateful.”

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Roy T. Bennett

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Which brings us back to those holiday desires, which can wake us up and move us forwards.

Whether we’re formulating birthday wishes, sharing a Christmas list, planning a Christmas celebration, or pondering new year’s resolutions; we harness our imagination, our desire, and our personal energies to create a new reality for ourselves.

Gratitude and growth go hand in hand.  We appreciate the blessings we enjoy already, and then multiply that sense of happiness and well being into the next step.    We express appreciation to a loved one, in hopes they will use that good feeling as fuel for their own growth and evolution.

There is always more to accomplish, more to experience, more to learn, more to do for the benefit of others.  We just have to imagine it, and then fuel it with faith and confidence until it materializes in our lives.

Wisdom teachers tell us that our gratitude and appreciation attract more of the same into our lives.

But the reverse is also true:  when we complain and focus on what is lacking, when we criticize loved ones and take them for granted; we lose that rocket fuel called ‘love’ which feeds our happiness.  When we overlook the tiny miracles and blessings of each day, we put blinders on our hearts and imagination.  Eventually, we close ourselves off to the possibilities around us.

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“You probably have the ability

to get what you want.

And you likely have everything you need

to be completely satisfied.

But do you also have the ability

to want what you’ve got?

That just may be one of

the most important questions you will ever answer.”

.

Steve Goodier

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But we all find obstacles in our path from time to time.  Perhaps a loved one’s illness or depression makes us put our own lives on ‘hold’ for a while.  We lose jobs we need, see the storms of chance change our lives in unexpected ways.  Things just don’t go according to plan….

Obstacles become detours, but the path stretches before us for as long as we live.  And meeting every obstacle with an open mind, a grateful heart, and determination to find the most benevolent outcome in each circumstance is how we keep moving towards a brighter, happier, more fulfilling life.

“Attitude is everything…”  We learn this as children, but practice it always.  Our attitude of gratitude serves us well, as we appreciate each and every day of our lives.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

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A Forest Garden 2017 garden calendar is now available

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“Thankfulness is an attitude of possibilities,

not an attitude of liabilities.”

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Craig D. Lounsbrough

One Word Photo Challenge: Red

March 19, 2014 red 001

Finding red is a tremendous challenge for a garden photographer in earliest spring.

Our garden is still mostly grey and brown, with a little ever-green to be found here and there.  The biggest news in our garden at the moment is the yellow daffodils and yellow Forsythia flowers appearing here and there through the rainy mist.

The leaves on this Azalea, usually evergreen, have turned red with the cold.

The leaves on this Azalea, usually evergreen, have turned red with the cold.

At first glance, there appears to be no fiery red in the landscape at all.  We’re months away from red roses and purple basil.

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Red Dianthus won’t open for a while yet, and the only red splotched Caladiums are hunkered down in their pots inside, waiting for May to make their debut outside.

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But, I’m a firm believer in the adage, “Seek and you will find.”  Perhaps it speaks more to the world fulfilling our expectations, whatever those may be; but for me it generally has worked.

At times it works extremely well, in fact.  Today I found red.

Newest tiny leaves on an Heuchera.

Newest tiny leaves on an Heuchera.

Crimson, scarlet, garnet jewel;

Rose and Ruby, blood that’s pooled.

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Lipstick, matchstick,  cherry red,

Color of passion,  life well led…

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Dried red peppers, tomatoes in sauce,

Red striped candy, hot dental floss.

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Fast cars, hot coals, shiny red shoes,

Stop signs, chili lights, Halloween ooze.

      *

Red at Christmas and Valentine  hearts;

Summer fireworks and berry Pop Tarts.

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“I love red things and fast red cars,”

Says April’s child born under Mars…

Hips from last summer's roses, still clinging to the canes in March.

Hips from last summer’s roses, still clinging to the canes in March.

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Many thanks to Jennifer Nichole Wells for hosting this One Word Photo Challenge.  Please check out the links on her page for many other interesting photos posted for the challenge.

Purple

Blue

Black

One Word Photo Challenge: Purple

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Violet,

Crowning arch of the rainbow,

Most etheric vibration of light;

You bring peace and insight, forgiveness and transcendence.

crystals

Amethyst crystal,

Balancer and protector,

Stone of clarity and knowledge;

You bring healing and wisdom to those who choose you.

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Lavender, lilac, orchid, plum,

Living, growing, pure vibrant color-

Fragrance of peace and healing;

You bring delicious beauty to those who grow you.

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Blending blue with red,

Ending and beginning the endless wheel of color;

Your every tint and hue a mosaic of quiet beauty.

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Growing in fields of living rainbows,

From darkest purpley black

To lightest shade of periwinkle;

Maroon, mauve, cabernet, blue ecstatic May born Iris.

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Violets growing in springtime grass,

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Fields of lavender filling warm summer breeze with perfume,

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Juicy plums dribbling as I bite you,

Mauve hellebores poking through the snow,

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Lilac shrub bursting into flower as April warms,

Orchids blooming on the windowsill;

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Beauty and happiness radiate in purple’s glow…

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Red

Blue

Black

Please visit Jennifer Nichole Wells who hosts this weekly One Word Photo Challenge.

It Is Inevitable

Hellebores and emerging bulbs

Heuchera  and emerging bulbs

Our feet  are now firmly set on the long slow journey of the unfolding year. 

Crocus

Crocus

As with any journey, there may be set backs from time to time.  Yet the journey continues.  Our journey may take us to unanticipated stops along the way, and progress may be a bit slower than we wish; but the path still lies before us.

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Yesterday’s snow, blowing in from the west, proved a set back for our journey towards spring.

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The intensely cold air, blowing down from the north, brought us record low morning temperatures across the Eastern half of the United States.

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It was 17 here this morning at 4:30, but I’m so grateful for that bit of warmth.  Our neighbors to the north, around the Great Lakes, had a far colder morning when the sun finally rose.

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Yesterday’s snow is now hardened into ice. But that ice is quickly melting and evaporating in our morning sun.

Daffodils emerging from the sun, buds ready to open one day soon.

Daffodils emerging from the sun, buds ready to open one day soon.

We can find inspiration in the budding daffodils, surrounded by snow, still standing tall as they wait for their day to open.  Snow melts from around their still green leaves, watering the Earth where they grow.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops

We find inspiration in buds on lilac and Forsythia shrubs, showing color, but waiting to unfurl their petals.  Unfurl they will, one day soon.  The earliest of spring’s flowers inspire me with their courage and fortitude, opening to an uncertain world.

Forsythia and lilac

Forsythia and lilac

Their timing must be correct if they are to open at the perfect time to greet the insects who must pollinate them, and for their pollinated flowers  to have the opportunity to set seeds for the coming season.

Kale

Kale

I wandered around in the falling snow yesterday, finding a thin layer of frozen whiteness  blanketing new spring growth like fragile veils of lace.  The very energy and vitality of the emerging leaves and buds seemed to shine through these icy mantillas, laid gently across the garden.

Mahonia

Mahonia

It was clear that they would  melt swiftly away, like a bridal veil, after the first kiss of sunshine.

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Because spring is an inevitable force of nature.  Each day subtly lengthens in our vernal journey back towards the sun.

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With every passing day the sun’s rays probe more deeply into the cells of every bough, leaf, and bud.

No matter what winds may blow across the surface of our planet, spring unfolds as the Earth’s deep energy responds to the sun’s approach.

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We can not let the illusion of winter distract us from knowing the growing presence of spring.

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Our path is set.  Followed year upon year beyond memory, our journey follows the familiar landmarks.  We are pilgrims in time, following an ancient map; making inevitable progress along the path of eternal change.

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Grape Mahonia in bud

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

“A tree can be tempted out of its winter dormancy by a few hours of southerly sun—the readiness to believe in spring is stronger than sleep or sanity.”

Amy Leach

March 2 garden 007

“The hopeless hope is one of the early harbingers of spring, bespeaking an innocent belief that the world might right its wrongs and reverse its curses simply because the trees are coming into leaf.”

Aleksandar Hemon

Opening

Hellebore

Hellebore growing in my friends’ garden

What has been closed and tight is opening,

Daffodils

Daffodils

What has been cold is warming.

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Galanthus nivalis

What has been still is moving at last.

February 16 spring flowers 010

Life stirs again in freshness and hope.

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Green grows to replace what is brown and brittle.

Garlic chives

Garlic chives

Hard turns soft,

Rose budding

Rose budding

Dark grows lighter

Crocus

Crocus

Days lengthen, and harsh wintery wind blows

February 24, 2014 daffodils 015

More gently now as spring’s warm breath.

Violas

Violas

Let our minds grasp this miracle of newness and growth

Hellebore in my friend's garden,

Hellebore in my friends’  garden

From the crusty remains of another season;

Hellebore in my friends' garden,

Hellebore in my friends’ garden

Let our hearts respond in love,

February 27, 2014 hellebores 008

opening to unexpected possibilities….

New plantings

New plantings

Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome, 2014

February 27, 2014 hellebores 002

Hidden Jewels: Hellebores

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Hellebores begin their grow in the middle of winter, sending up fresh new leaves and flower scapes under cover of their sturdy, evergreen leaves left standing from the previous season.    These thick, protective leaves offer cover from freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and winter winds.

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Hellebores in late January, finally emerging from several inches of snow.

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Although they may begin to look a bit ragged by February, Helleborus leaves are still vibrantly green in our garden.  It is only when these long, thick  leaves are finally cut away that the dazzling jewel like buds of the new season’s flowers finally shine.

Within just a few days of removing the cover of old leaves, light reaches the new growth, causing it to lengthen and the buds to open.  New flowers and leaves will soon fill out the display.

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Hellebores are hardy perennials, growing in moist shady spots in zones 5-8.  Native to much of Northern Europe from the British Isles eastwards to Turkey, the original species have been heavily hybridized to produce countless different combinations of form and color.

Although often called “Christmas Rose” and “Lenten Rose” for their season of bloom, the 20 or so species of Helleborus are not related at all to roses.  Rather, their common name refers to the open rosette shape of their bloom when fully open.

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Hellebore blossoms are only fully appreciated when viewed up close.  Most cultivars hold their blossoms facing downwards.  One must come in close and lift each blossom to see its face.

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February 24, 2014 snowdrops 015

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Most Helleborus blossoms bloom in shades of white, cream, pink, peach, lilac, burgundy, or dark purple.  Many have “freckles” on their faces.  Some Helleborus flowers are entirely green, including H. odorus and the beautiful H. foetidus.  Others,  may be a shade of green with pink or purple markings.

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February 24, 2014 snowdrops 014~

Although Hellebores are widely available through mail order nurseries, this is one plant I prefer to buy in person, when it is in bloom.  I want to see the flower and buy a sturdy, well developed plant.

I’ve planted Hellebores in pots during the winter, with Violas and evergreen fern, in full sun areas.  It is important to lift and transplant these Hellebores to mostly shady areas before the middle of May, in our area, so the plant isn’t burned by the summer sun.

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One of the prettiest Hellebores, with variegated foliage, is H. argutifolius  ‘Snow Fever.’  Its new leaves and flower buds emerge tipped in pink.  Its creamy flowers have a cast of light green.  This one has not proven as reliably hardy in a pot as H. orientalis, but it remains worth the effort.

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Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’

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Hellebores enjoy winter and spring sunshine, but appreciate the leafy canopy of trees during the summer.  They grow well in partial shade under large shrubs or deciduous trees.

If planted under a tree, make sure the plant gets sufficient moisture all summer.  Thirsty tree roots often grow up into plantings and rob the perennials of needed moisture when the beds aren’t kept well watered.

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I lost two beautiful Hellebores last year by transplanting them in late spring, under trees, and not keeping them well watered through the entire season.  I also planted them a little too high.  The crown of the plant should be at, or slightly below ground level, and the area around the roots well mulched.

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This two year old seedling was transplanted into a fern bed last summer.

This two year old seedling was transplanted into a fern bed last summer.

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Many of the Hellebores available at nurseries are hybrids, and so the seedlings won’t match the parent plants.  Hellebores do set great quantities of viable seeds, and so you’ll find hundreds of little seedlings coming up nearby.  These can be transplanted in spring, cared for, and grown out to see what flowers will develop.

Don’t expect seedlings to reproduce the  flowers on an expensive hybrid, but do give the plant a chance.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the flowers which do develop.  There are so many seedlings from a mature plant that you have plenty to generously share with gardening friends and to expand your own collection.

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Helleborus hybrids can be found in many unusual colors.

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Every part of a Helleborus plant is poisonous, from flower to root.  This means they won’t be nibbled by voles or deer.

Spread the older leaves you cut away on the ground anywhere you are troubled by moles or voles, and the poisonous alkaloids will be transferred to the soil.  It is wise to wear gloves when planting Hellebores, trimming their leaves, or cutting their flowers.

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My first Hellebores were a gift from a dear friend who grows a yard full of them.  We dug dozens of seedlings from her garden one day in early summer, and I brought them home and tucked them into new raised beds I was building.  They took off in the rich compost, quickly filling the bed.

Sadly, where I tucked seedlings into the ground without first building up a new bed of compost, they struggled.  The seedlings planted into a well prepared bed bloomed the following spring.  Those planted in other areas did not.

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February 24, 2014 snowdrops 022

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Hellebores tend to be more expensive than some other perennials because they don’t bloom their first year.  When you buy a plant in bloom, it is already several years old.  If transplanting your own seedlings, expect a few years of foliage only before the first flowers appear.

Hellebores form wonderful ground cover in shady areas, and require very little care.  Although they look unremarkable during much of the year, their winter and early spring bloom make them well worth the effort.  By planting several different varieties you can enjoy Helleborus blooms from December through May.

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February 24, 2014 snowdrops 021~

I’ve noticed that most of the best gardeners in our community grow Hellebores.

Many cultivars of Helleborus, especially H. odoratus, grow well in the conditions our gardens offer.  In fact, they are on the “short list” of flowering perennials which thrive here.

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February 2017 Helleborus

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Mix Hellebores with ferns, mosses, Hostas, Epimediums, Brunnera,  and other shade loving perennials.  Once past their bloom, the Hellebores leaves will form a solid backdrop for other plants throughout the summer.

Cut, Hellebores last for a long time in the vase.  One of the few cut flowers we can grow here in Zone 7b during the winter, they work well in arrangements with early daffodils and forced flowering branches of shrubs or fruit trees.

February 24, 2014 snowdrops 018~

Hellebores are another heritage plant which continue year to year with little effort from the gardener.  Trimming their old leaves, keeping them watered, and feeding once or twice each year with a mulch of compost is all they really require if planted in the proper spot in the garden.

They reward this little effort with lovely jewel like flowers when we most need them, during these last few frosty weeks of late winter and earliest spring.

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All photos by Woodland Gnome 2014-2018

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February 24, 2014 snowdrops 020
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More about Hellebores on Forest Garden:
The Beauty of Hellebores
Helleborus argutifolius ‘Snow Fever’
Why I Love Those Plants of Ill Repute
Plan Now For Winter Flowers

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