Hellebores: Jewels of Winter, Part II
Last week Smithsonian gardens Horticulturist Janet Draper introduced us to some of the most beautiful of the winter flowering plants, Hellebores. Here are a few more of her favorite picks for your home garden:
One of the new cultivars that I have been most impressed with are new varieties of Helleborus niger, a.k.a the ‘Christmas Rose.’ I had never been impressed with Helleborus niger in the past, but the selection ‘Joseph Lemper’ has really changed my opinion. It is marketed as part of the Helleborus Gold Collection (HGC) from Heuger nurseries in Germany. The Joseph Lemper in the Ripley Garden started producing numerous 2-2 1/2” flowers on sturdy tall stems held well above the foliage in late NOVEMBER and it is still producing new flowers in late February! I am not sure if this form is sterile or not, but either way this cultivar is a showstopper for the winter garden.
Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’
Another member of the HGC series is Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’. This beauty starts blooming in February and will continue for at least a month. It has lovely upward-facing pink flowers which turn a deeper shade of pink as they age. The foliage is gorgeous, with lovely white veining and red stems. My plants are still young, but I am really impressed with what is showing so far!
There are many other exciting new cultivars hitting the market, including some from local breeders like David Culp in Pennsylvania, Barry Glick in West Virginia and Judith and Dick Tyler in Southern Virginia. There are new selections which are double flowered, or possess dramatic markings, enlarged nectarines, upward facing flowers… oh the madness!
I have been slowly adding more and more of these winter gems to the Ripley Garden and currently have nineteen different varieties. Some are still quite small and will not bloom for a year or two since they take some time to get established, but all are worth the investment of time and money to brighten your winter garden.
-Janet Draper, Horticulturist