Hellebores are good?

I question if a gardener, and by this I refer to myself, should feel obliged to keep proper records of what he plants. Is it sufficient to state that “hellebores are good”, or is there an obligation to specifically recommend ‘Anna’s Red’ (or any other) if he has found this to be an exceptional hellebore? The problem, of course, is that after several years, when I’ve confirmed that this hellebore is an excellent choice, I’ve forgotten its cultivar name.

Anna’s Red (above), and two related hellebores, Molly’s White and Penny’s Pink, have performed well into their second year. Another few years are required to verify that these should be recommended, though few hellebores fail to please.

I excuse that proper identification of plant cultivars is difficult, with frequent and numerous introductions, and few that are not quickly swept aside by the next “bigger and better”. I’ve attempted to mark varieties by digging in the plastic nursery tags as hellebores are planted, but of course these are lost, broken, or they fade. For a short while I marked notable cultivars with metal stake tags, but gave it up, thinking that this seemed pretentious. Also, I was planting and forgetting cultivar names quicker than I could get the tags set out.

I am fairly certain this is one of the earliest hellebores planted in the garden, though there are numerous seedlings in the vicinity so it’s impossible to tell.

So, now I do the best I can, which is not much, I agree. If I write about one plant or another I can generally remember where it is, if I can find the reference, which is not always so easy.

Seedling or named cultivar? I haven’t a clue, but it’s a nice off white hellebore.

Further complicating the situation is that many hellebores seed readily, and then seedlings are transplanted. Or was that the parent? So, I can’t identify more than a few handfuls of the many dozens of hellebores in the garden as hybrids I purchased, or as seedlings.

Almost certainly a seedling, but a keeper.

And, does it matter? Not so much to me, I must admit. I swing to and fro, from being a stickler for nomenclature to not caring a lick, and in the end I realize that I’m easily pleased. An ordinary seedling with a bunch of blooms is often as worthy as a fancy hybrid, so this seems a proper justification for enjoying and not fretting much if I forget a cultivar name.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Darla Anderson says:

    I am a hellebore lover, Dave and I have the same problem, I’ve been collecting them for over 15 years and have a hard time keeping track of what’s what, not to mention the new seedlings that emerge from the mother plants. I counted my collection today and I have 48 plants that are flowering beautifully right now and that is just at my house in Northern VA. I have about 10-15 more plants in the Coastal area of NC where we have our second home in Emerald Isle. They don’t perform as well there, most likely due to the sandy soil with the lack of retention of nutrients and moisture. I do love that they reliably come back bigger and better each year, that they don’t have insect or disease issues and the deer don’t eat them…The perfect shade perennial!

    1. Dave says:

      I won’t count the number of hellebores in the garden so I can (almost) truthfully claim to my wife that there are barely more than a few. Somehow the number increases every year, from seedlings (there are hundreds of tiny new ones now that I’ve cleared the leaf clutter) to ones I buy. There are eight on the driveway, waiting to plant. In another few days many of the double blooms will be fully opened.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    As a grower, it would be a problem. In my own garden, I do not even grow them. They are fun to grow for others, but I do not even like them. (That is what I thought you might mean by ‘Hellebores are good?’.)

  3. Ruth says:

    Dave, you are right…it wouldn’t be good to be too pretentious! 😀. The pics are – as always – beautiful! Well done! 😀

    1. Dave says:

      A little pretentious is okay. Mostly, I think I didn’t want to bother with the tags.

  4. Jane Gealy says:

    I have no idea what hellebores I have, which is unusual for me as I list all my plants in a spreadsheet (yes, I am that anal, no I am not an accountant). I bought a mixed pack and potted them up, then found the key that identified each one. Doh!

    1. Dave says:

      I wouldn’t be concerned with cultivar names at all if I were not writing and recommending plants. But, now I’ve kind of apologized so I’m over it.

  5. Tom Mack says:

    We totally agree with this one. Enjoying those hellebores, whatever the name.

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