Tag Archive | hellebore

Hellebores and other Spring beauties

The last month has been less than perfect, as I have had a nasty bout of ‘flu, and haven’t been well enough to get out in the garden much. Once the worst was over, I went visiting friends and family around the country for a week, while I got my strength back. I managed to visit a fair few garden centres and nurseries while away, so returned with a boot full of delicious plants. This unusual striped hellebore was one of my finds – it is bred by Hilliers as part of their Spring Promise range, and is called ‘Lily’.

 

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I had a quick look at the other hellebores they were selling, not expecting to find anything else, but then I found yet another stunner – this time a double purple so dark it looks black, but with a softer purple showing around the edges.

 

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This is ‘Double Ellen Purple’, a superb addition to my little hellebore grove along the woodland path.

The garden is awash with Spring bulbs, all doing their best to stand up against the Spring storms. The crocuses struggle, but some have survived.

 

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My current favourite among the daffodils is this mid-sized one with swept back petals, and a rich orange trumpet. it really stands out amongst all the yellow and white varieties.

 

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This little corner bed at the end of our drive was just full of weeds, so in the winter I planted a little conifer which was swathed with fairy lights for Christmas, and added a few clumps of mini daffs that needed moving from elsewhere. Now I just need to add a little something else in front of the conifer for summer colour.

 

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We have had to add an extra layer of wire mesh around the base of our potager, as we found that the rabbits were chewing holes in our plastic deer fencing, even there is nothing inside yet for them to eat!

 

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That should stop them. The first plants have now gone in – summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries. They don’t look much at the moment, but should grow away well, helped by lots of homemade compost. I am really looking forward the the first crop.

 

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Now I need some mild, dry weather so that I can get out there and get gardening, but as it is currently raining I shall have to make do with admiring my bowl of hellebores.

 

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Too much salt is bad for you

And for most plants too.

My house is 4 miles inland with a large hill sheltering it from onshore winds. Salt spray is obviously not a normal problem, as when we arrived all the mature evergreens were well grown with healthy shiny leaves.

Then we had storm Imogen…

 

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Nearly every evergreen has been burned by the salt, from the primroses in the lawn to the native ivy growing up the ash tree. It is such a shame. The affected plants won’t die, hopefully, but they will shed all the damaged leaves, and will look bare and lopsided. I will work my way round cutting them back, and hopefully they will regrow from lower down. Some may never look as good as they did before the storm.

 

On a brighter note, the rain has stopped, and the soil is drying out. I have finally been able to do some creative gardening, rather than just destructive gardening. I planted my two newest hellebores by the woodland path. This one is a Hillier hybrid just called White Spotted.

 

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This one is unusual in that it is most attractive on the outside, which is a very useful trait in a nodding flower such as a hellebore. It is ‘Anja Oudolf’.

 

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They don’t yet look very impressive in the border, but they should clump up over time.

 

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Today I dug a new border along the fence that separates our front garden from next door’s driveway. Just a narrow bed, about 3 metres long. Should have been easy, right? I got six half-buckets of stones out of that small bed! (Half a bucket is quite heavy enough to carry in one go). They weren’t all small stones either, as I levered out a good half dozen that were bigger than a brick. Eventually I did manage to get the plants in – a Berberidopsis which will have red summer flowers, a Chaenomeles that has red flowers right now, two Skimmia ‘Red Riding Hood’ which will have red berries and a male Skimmia, ‘Fragrans’, to pollinate them.

 

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I may add a few smaller plants for the short term, but eventually these five shrubs should completely cover this border, and provide colour all year round.

My last job of the day was to plant a little primula that I couldn’t resist buying, even though the garden is full of primulas. But this ‘Blue Gem’ is rather sweet!

 

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Progress in the garden

 

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I have now removed the tumbledown rose arch, which opens up a lovely view of the bank beyond. Ok, there’s not much planted on that bit, but give me time…I do like a garden centre visit! The other news is that the biggest of my three thickets of Rosa rugosa has gone. We paid the local gardeners to do it, as it was a massive undertaking. Hard to believe this all grew from a small clump of plants…

 

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They have dug out most of the major roots, but there is still the odd bit that needs doing. And being the thug it is, it will regrow from all the little bits that are left. The plan is to leave this vast area fallow, and spray off any regrowth this year, so that hopefully it can be grassed next year. It has really opened up this central area of the garden, so I am very pleased.

New bulbs are popping up everywhere, and the snowdrop glade is a real picture.

 

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The mini daffs are now appearing in unexpected places, and adding to the show.

 

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I treated myself to a Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) the other day, as it is a lovely variety with flowers that lift up to face you, not droop down.  It is planted by the path to the shed where I can admire it every day.

 

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Early spring flowers

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Today has been very mild, so quite a contrast to the recent heavy frosts. The first of the mini daffs has opened, and seems a true miniature of a large yellow trumpet type. The snowdrops continue to pop up in the woodland, but are not fully open yet.

 

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As with the daffodils, I keep finding them hidden under other plants, and I will need to dig them out and give them a better home. They are too special to leave hidden in the undergrowth!

 

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I found a grape hyacinth today; only a common bulb, I know, but it is still nice to know that I have some…or one anyway!

 

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The first of many daisies has flowered. I do like daisies in a lawn, so the front lawn will be spot treated to remove unwanted weeds, while leaving the daisies, primroses, and bulbs well alone.

 

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My new hellebore has opened it’s first flower. It is such a pretty double. The only others I have found round the garden have been less impressive, so I think i need to treat myself to a few more choice varieties.

 

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The frosts damaged all the open flowers on my azalea, but I think there are more buds which will open. The camellia suffered the same fate, but has already covered itself in fresh flowers. Such a joy to see them at this time of year!

 

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All about water…

I thought that a watershed was a high part of the country where rivers flowed down down each side in opposite directions, so when our new neighbours invited us round to see the watershed, I expected a long hike….Instead they took us to a shed in their garden where our water is filtered…the Water Shed! Our water comes from a borehole up the lane, via this filter system, and is soft clean, sweet, and pure. It is a joy to drink, but often comes out of the tap cloudy, due to a mass of tiny bubbles, which clear gently from the bottom to leave it sparkling and clear. It does throw visitors the first time you give them a glass!

As it is soft, I have no limescale, which is bliss after living in a very hard water area for most of my life. I am still getting used to not putting as much detergent in the washing up (big bowls of bubbles!) and in the washing machine (sometimes have to give it an extra rinse).

The shower is a joy: as the water pressure is high so it is like a power shower. Ok, I should mention here that the shower does leak from the valve, so less of a joy. It is also too old to be mended, and a non standard size so a bugger to replace….The plumber is returning next week, so we will see.

There is plenty of water outside as well. Today was a reasonable day, in that it was mostly dry during my morning ride, with just enough drizzle to give a superb rainbow. This afternoon I managed an hour or so of gardening. Fed up with all the destructive gardening that we have had to do, I actually planted a plant! We have a few hellebores here and there, and don’t yet know what colours they will be. But while at a garden centre last week, I found one called ‘Cinderella’, with a double white flower heavily spotted with pink. It looks delightful, so I treated myself with a voucher that I received for Christmas – thank you Aunty Anne!

 

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I excavated a space for it next to a set of steps, where we will be able to see the flowers easily. As the bank is steep. I have dotted a  few stones on the bare soil, to try and prevent it washing away. I can’t wait until those fat white buds open!

And then the heavens opened, and the torrential rain drove me inside. I suppose all our lovely soft tasty Devon water has to come from somewhere!