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Raised at Frogswell by my predecessor Jane and myself, from seed sourced from the collection of John Bradley, the Tasmanian breeder. These dramatic plants are no longer in commercial propagation.
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
Sunday 23rd looks like being is the only calmish day in the coming week. On the other hand, there is another centimetre a day of rain to come between now and then, paths are already under standing water, and likely there is flooding on local roads as well.
So, alternatives to a live open afternoon on February 23rd:
- Virtual visit – a gallery post or two for Sunday.
- Wait for the heritage daffodils in March.
- For anyone with wellingtons and determination to make the trip over during the week 23rd – 28th, email a day ahead to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.