Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Helleborus x orientalis: it is beautiful

They have been flowering for a while but I just don't care the way I used to. The flowers are beautiful, they plants are nice if you prune off last year's leaves. They are definitely cool; it's just that there are so many of them around. There are new cultivars, some with variegated leaves, others with red petioles (these are Helleborus foetidus selections), others with double flowers, and every color in the rainbow so long as it's white to pink to darkest red. One thing I do like about them a lot is the amount of variation in a seedling population. If you plant two or three non-sterile plants and wait 10 years you will have all those colors and speckles and shaded bicolors. Probably no doubles, but they're not especially attractive anyway.

The plants you buy as Helleborus orientalis, are convoluted multiple hybrids involving any number of species. The H. lividus crosses produce plants with intriguingly streaked leaves but they are a bit tender. Pine Knot Farms, in Clarksville, Virginia imports, breeds, and sells wonderful Hellebores. They are a good, but doable, ride from Washington. Maybe next year.

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