Hyacinths and Hellebores

I like hyacinths.  They’re so fat and fragrant I can’t help but not like them, and even though I don’t think I use them well in the garden they will always get a spot here.  -Even if they’re all girly pink and white like some Easter wedding bouquet 🙂

dutch hyacinths

Pink and white dutch hyacinths. I like them, but not so much with the bright blue of the scilla siberica “spring beauty”.  Also the pastel combo reminds me too much of the bathroom we still need to remodel.

The darker blue and purple shades are something I’ve been trying to add more of around the garden.  I think they complement the daffodils and tulips well and I’m glad to see that several are making offsets and beginning to clump up.  Dividing them would save me a few bulb dollars that could be spent on other goodies!

miss saigon hyacinth

“Miss Saigon” hyacinth (maybe?) with a mix of other spring bulbs.  Notice the freeze damage on the tulips, they didn’t enjoy last week’s 20F nighttime lows.

The large, heavy blooms of hyacinths can look a bit awkward in the garden and tend to flop, so I’m really loving the looser multi-flowering types.  I think this is hyacinth “Anastacia”.  Each bulb of this type sends up several smaller bloom stalks rather than one large congested head, and the dark purple flower stems only add to the effect.  Too bad the only other colors I can find these in is pink and white…

hyacinth anastacia

If you remember, we had a hard freeze last week and although most things made it through just fine, there has been some damage to tulip foliage, hyacinth blooms (a few randomly turned to mush), and hellebore stalks.  Hellebores are trying to put on a show now, but this garden is pretty wide open, and hellebores take a beating.

freeze damage on hellebores

Hellebores with some freeze damage to the blooms, but still putting on a show!

Between last summer’s drought, last winter’s freezes, and late spring cold snaps it’s a wonder that I get any blooms.  Maybe pity will be the motivation I need to reward these clumps with some better prepared soil and a less weedy location.  It’s a shame these and some other cool anemone flowered plants are forced to suffer like this!

pink spotted anemone hellebore

Pink anemone flowered hellebore with spotting, grown from Elizabethtown seed sown around 2008ish.

I hate having my hands in pictures, but to get the full effect you really have to take a look inside these blooms.  Maybe someday I’ll collect a dishful and float them in water, but until then you’re stuck with the hand shots.

white anemone flowered hellebore

A little beat up by the cold, but still a nice white anemone, -also from Elizabethtown hellebore seed.

These were also raised from Elizabethtown seed, and now that Elizabethtown has closed down retail seed sales, I’m at a loss for a new seed source.  I could go with tissue cultured hybrids or buy seedlings of some of the better strains, but I like the adventure of raising from seed, even if it takes a couple years for your first bloom…. plus it’s so much more affordable (unless you’re eyeing Ashwood seed from England!)

dark red double helleboe

A nice red double and some yellow picotee seedlings blooming for the first time. They also took a beating from the cold.

I don’t know if this last one counts as anemone flowered, but the neatly arranged petaloids(?) or nectaries(?) inside the bloom give a similar effect.  The plant photographed well and the color looks more apricot than it really is, in person the flower leans more towards interesting than towards beautiful.

blooming hellebore

Hellebore blooms padded with extra petaloids, these plants are sheltered by the house.

Sorry about the poor picture quality, the day was a little dull for my point and shoot skills to get good pictures, but I wanted to get a few in there before I get lost in the world of daffodils and tulips!  The early ones are just starting now and between trying to get things transplanted and trying to enjoy every new flower it’s hectic.  Viva la Spring! 🙂

A few good hellebores

In the last 4-5 years I’ve noticed that hellebores have entered the tissue culture world. It was just a matter of time I guess, but I feel like it takes away a little bit of the magic and mystery of these plants….. but on the other hand there’s no way I would have ever gotten my hands on some of the newer complicated (usually sterile) cross-species cultivars that are showing up.


This “HGC Silvermoon” is a heavy bloomer with an interesting color.  It’s attractively planted too close to a construction area and the bricks are supposed to remind me not to step on it.  Too bad the leaves get beat up by the ice and snow, I’ve seen it in bloom with foliage intact and it looks so much better.  But you get what you get when you’re too lazy to offer up any winter protection.


“Cinnamon Snow” is from a similar cross involving 2 different species.  I could google the info and come off as sounding pretty smart but it’s late and I don’t think I’d be fooling anyone.  I believe one of the parents is H. Niger, commonly known as the Christmas Rose, and I think this is the first time I’ve got a nice bloom on this plant.  It’s in a sheltered spot so the leaves hold up well, but the sheltered spot also brings the blooms up early so they tend to freeze, abort and not open fully


Hybrid hellebores

The “other” hellebores are the regular hybrid hellebores.  They’re a mix of several species, they set seed easily and run a range of colors from white to mauve to purple to nearly black.  There are some greens and yellows now and with spotting and doubles the range keeps getting bigger.  Nearly all of my plants are from seed, but tissue culture clones are showing up here too.  These here are all from Australian Elizabethtown seed (now sadly closed).


I’m still waiting for the fancier ones to grow up and bloom, but I do have a couple anemone flowered (a flower part-way between single and double) starting to put on a decent show…. I hate when any part of my hand shows up in a picture, but hellebores tend to nod and sometimes you need a helping hand to peek inside.

Since many hellebores are seed grown there’s always the chance your plant will be a dud when it blooms, and it’s not a bad idea to avoid buying them sight unseen, but if you go with a decent source your chances for a good ‘un are much better.  I would bet that most people in the anti-hellebore camp (if one exists) have only seen poor quality seed grown plants.  Get good seed and be patient, things will work out.


Next year should be a good hellebore year.  I have way too many seedlings coming along and have actually been taking pretty good care of them.  I’m hoping for doubles, yellows, picotees…. all the fancy new types that I don’t have yet.  The nursery plants are usually out of my budget, but give me a packet of seeds and a couple years and I’m right there with a decent hellebore bed.