Hellebores: The Final Cut
Hello again, friends!
I know that last week we got all haute couture and fancy-shmancy with a lace hellebores headdress, but today I wanted to personally introduce you to the few varieties of winter-blooming beauties that made the final cut and found their way into my garden. The decision was difficult, involving a fair amount of pulling plants from the shelf only to put them back and trade them for a more colorful (or frilly, or larger, or upward-facing, or…) contender. In the end, I decided on: Picotee seedling, Dark Purple Double, Picotee Double, Purple, Green Double, Pink Double, Green Picotee Double, and, thanks to the generosity of Linda and Roger Bastin, the incredibly fabulous Tutu.
I’m secretly hoping that this interesting variety of colors, shapes, and textures will cross-pollinate, leaving me with a somewhat-shady garden full of exciting seedlings. Maybe I could even try to influence the pollination procedure myself? How amazing would the anemone-flowering Tutu look cross-bred with the dark purple double? Drool.
The Picotee seedling (pictured above) has unexpectedly stolen my heart. The darker edges (hence “picotee”) and dramatic purple-veined coloration make for quite a fetching combination. The Green Double and Pink Double (pictured below) are equally stunning in very different ways.
For those of you who fell in love with Tutu after I posted her picture on facebook, you might be interested to know that she drops her inner “skirt” of petals along with the pollen-coated stamens as she ages. Thus, by the time she’s ripe for the pickin’, she’s lost her characteristic and frilly tutu. Speaking of picking… who has trouble with hellebores getting sad and droopy a mere day after being cut? *raises hand*
To combat this widespread and quite frustrating issue, you can choose to float your flowers instead of leaving them on the stem. I’ve found that they last much longer this way. In fact, the buds I cut on Thursday are still going strong today. They do, of course, shed their stamens, but the “petals”… which are actually sepals and not really petals at all, stay nice and perky and full of color.
Whether you choose to float them as a grouping in a large, shallow vessel or as individual specimens in separate vases, a bath full of water is definitely the easiest trick to making your hellebores buddies stick around for a while.
After wearing my hellebores headdress around for a significant part of the morning and early afternoon, a few of the flowers were, as expected, looking a little sad. Worried that I’d cut their life short, I hurriedly plopped them into their watery refuge. Happy to be back within the realm of relative safety, they immediately perked up and looked as good as new. Yippee!
If you’re determined to have long and lengthy stems of hellebores, it’s best to know the “right” stage for picking. If you look at the left image above or the right image below, you’ll see a selection of hellebores buds at various stages of maturity. You might notice that the Double Green Picotee (the furthest to the bottom of each image) has shed its stamens and has seedpods just beginning to form. This is actually the best stage for picking. Unfortunate that we have to forgo the showy stamens, the flower’s flirting eyelashes… but, alas, we can’t make miracles happen.
I’m so excited to introduce my new flower friends to the rest of the existing members of the garden. Luckily I’ll be able to admire their pretty buds for a bit longer… and then it will be a waiting game, anxiously anticipating the first flowers to pop out of the ground next winter!