I get the look from my wife, a lot. This week, a few packages of plants ordered through the winter have been delivered. Often, I’m able to grab and plant these without witnesses, but this week was cold and windy, so I was caught in the act. When it’s revealed that packages contain plants (the first delivery arrived with dormant roots of dormant Petasites frigidus var. palmatus ‘Golden Palms’, below), the disapproving look ensues (sometimes only a disgusted shake of the head), as it will when I arrive home in a few weeks with the front seat of the car jammed full after a visit to the garden center. This winter, several larger orders have been divided into multiple, smaller deliveries, so I’m confronted by the evidence with disturbing frequency (though I’m delighted with the arrivals).
I’ve seen the look so often now that the effect has worn a bit thin, and while objections are noted, certainly these have little effect in dissuading additional compulsive purchases. This is why a Japanese maple or two becomes a collection of thirty-five trees (or more), and how several hellebores become many more dozens than I care to count. In fact, I have no interest in making a count of maples or hellebores (or anything else). Why would I provide proof of my excess?
While purchases provoke my wife’s wrath, she’s quite happy with the end result, I think. Today, there are no complaints with hellebores in full flower. Often, blooms are spaced from late January through mid-March, but the vagaries of this winter’s weather concentrated more flowers into a shorter window, which is now. I prefer the longer period of bloom, but my preference doesn’t count, and as I prowl about the garden I’m overjoyed with flowers of hellebores, pieris, and more.
The garden’s hellebores are unevenly divided into old types, with flowers that nod downward, and newer introductions with taller flower stalks and blooms that face outward or up. These are the ones that are hard to resist, and they also are the root of my troubles. Undoubtedly, there are many more of the older types in the garden than newer, to a large extent because seedlings sprout readily, which are then encouraged to grow for a few years before they’re transplanted. But, there is confusion in numbers, and I’ve explained before that part of the reason I’ve lost track of the names of many of the garden’s hellebores is because there are far too many to keep straight. Many are purchases, hybrids and select strains, but more of the types with nodding (but still beautiful) flowers that are spread through the garden began here as seedlings. Ones pictured on this page are a fraction of unique hellebores in the garden, though many not pictured show only slight variation.
I suppose that if money was not a consideration I would prefer the fancier types, and particularly ones with double flowers or speckles, or whatever else makes one new introduction more distinctive. There are a bunch of these, which tend to be later to flower, with many just coming into bloom. But, the fancy types aren’t cheap, and many are sterile so there will never be (free) seedlings. This does, however, leave space for purchasing new introductions that catch my eye.