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Orchard Path, February 23rd
The last of the orchard hellebore areas to be planted, focussing mainly on lighter colours – pale pinks, cream-yellows and picotee-edged whites. Most plants are now five or six years old, and producing dozens of blooms
Popping Up – This Season’s Hellebore Sale
It’s always said that with hybrid hellebores the one way of being sure of finding the flower form and colour that suits you is to purchase plants in bloom.
With that in mind, Frogswell will be open for hellebore viewing in the second week of February. Afternoons only, and by prior appointment. See the Events 2019 section for details.
Hellebore plants still available include some picotees and semi-doubles, as well as the more usual singles in a range of colours. Mainly from divisions, though there will also be a few seedlings available.
It’s also an opportunity to preview the forms that will be available from division next season, and make choices.
Also available: small quantities of double and tall single snowdrops, early daffodils and other woodland plants.
This is by no means a full-dress Charity Open Day – that has to wait on the April trout lilies, corydalis and heritage narcissi.
Coping with the Cold
The scene in the orchard on Brigit’s day… Feb 1st. Flowering was at its peak at the end of January, but the predicted cold weather put paid to plans for an early viewing day.
The dramatic collapse of the flowering plants is not terminal; despite their Mediterranean origins hybrid hellebores are actually very hardy. (Down to USDA Hardiness Zone 4, so plants may just be accommodating the current polar vortex).
Their ancestral species are typically found at high altitudes, exposed to late snowfall, and the defence mechanism evolved there has been inherited by the garden hybrids.
As the ambient temperature climbs above freezing, the stems gradually uncurl. Or in a long cold spell, the plants just stay hunkered down.
The longer-stemmed green-flowered hellebore species which come from less extreme climates, lack this adaptation. Frogswell’s thriving stock of the apple-green helleborus sternii, for example, was completely knocked out by the long freeze of 2010-2011.