African Garden + [Hellebores]

Helleboremania!

Helleborus x hybridus 'Red Mountain' April 2009
Is it possible to have too many Hellebores? I've concluded the answer is yes, at least it is here at Squirrelhaven. There are Hellebores scattered throughout the woodland garden, on the north side of the house,

in the southeast corner, even out front, where one has seeded itself like a weed.

Looking at all the emerging Hellebores, I decided to count them. (Don't worry, I don't have Obsessive-compulsive disorder; I don't usually count things, and I never count the cars while stopped at train crossings.) Including seedlings, I counted 61 Hellebores on my property, which is less than a half acre. That's just too many. I don't know how I let them get so out of control. I've been deadheading them for several years now.

I've even weeded out seedlings and composted them. This Hellebore is in constant peril of being trodden on by my large, clumsy feet.

I can't imagine how this one under the log is managing to grow.

For their own good, the madness must stop.
I'm going to keep most of the ones I've got, and what a selection it's turning out to be. I started off with Helleborus niger. I bought and planted three plants. Two died. One flourished and seeded about.

Then I bought two different hybrids, three plants of each. Most of the hybrid Hellebores for sale are from seed strains, so while the three plants I purchased were all labeled 'Pink Lady,'

pink 'Pink Lady'
there is variability which results in these dark flowered forms.

red 'Pink Lady'

dark 'Pink Lady'

I've also noticed that the flowers change color over time, probably related to the temperature. They get lighter as it gets warmer, as can be seen from this photo from last April of these same plants.

Note all the seedlings surrounding the three original plants.
'Red Mountain' (photo at top) has come remarkably true to seed, except for the white one, which I've dubbed 'White Mountain.'

I foolishly allowed both groups to set seed, resulting in some interesting seedlings, including a spotted one.

Two years ago, I was smitten with a Hellebore that is not a seedstrain, 'Kingston Cardinal,' a double from the old Heronswood run by Dan Hinkley. I purchased one mailorder (because of the price) from Plant Delights Nursery. It didn't bloom last year, but it's about ready to bloom for the first time.

I'm so excited.
I must have been firmly in the grip of Helleboremania in 2008, because I also bought a couple of Helleborus x nigersmithii 'Walhelivor' (Ivory Prince ™).

I don't know why I got only two of them.
Then last year, I was possessed by the Hellebores at The Growing Place garden center in Naperville, and came home with this beauty, H. hybridus 'Ballerina Strain.'

I'm still wowed by that color.
At the Chicago Flower and Garden Show in March, I actually picked up a double Hellebore at The Growing Place's booth. Before I could pay for it, sanity hit me like an electric shock, a voice in my head saying, "Put that Hellebore down and back away. There's no place for another Hellebore, no matter how ruffled and pink." While I don't usually hear voices in my head, much less listen to them, I put it back and walked away. I think I've finally recovered from Helleboremania.
Do you suffer from Helleboremania? Would you like to?