African Garden + wildflower

Hellebores, Hepatica & Hammamelis: Last Week at Squirrelhaven
Helleborus x hybridus

April is a wonderful time here at Squirrelhaven. The hellebores are blooming, as I predicted last week. Usually, the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is the first to bloom,

the Christmas rose/Helleborus niger

but this year, it opened the same day as the hellebore seedling in the top photo. For some reason, the Christmas roses look terrible this year, with black spots on the petals. It might be time to divide and move some of them.
The first of the native wildflowers have bloomed, a Labrador violet (Viola labradorica) and this clump of sharp-leaved hepatica.

Hepatica nobilis var. acuta

The other clumps of sharp-leaved hepatica and the round-leaved hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa) always bloom later. It must be a real estate thing: location. I'm going to try to remember this fall to divide this large clump and spread it around the garden some more. Hepaticas are such great plants because they are not only not ephemeral, they are nearly evergreen, or rather, ruby. They'd be worth growing for their foliage alone.

From last week's bulb watch: Scilla sibierica has started blooming. It's a good time to head out to Elgin or Willmette, Illinois, to see lawns transformed into seas of blue.

It is patently obvious that I need to help the Scilla in the lawn to spread. It's not worth showing; the one above is in the garden near the Thalictrum thalictroides (Anemonella thalictroides) rosea which is on the cusp of blooming.
The snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) and Eranthis are on the way out, Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple' is blooming,

Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple' has darker purple and slightly later blooms than the species

and the daffodils are about to pop.
For some reason, the squirrels don't bother this little species tulip, T. pulchella 'Violacea'.

Tulipa pulchella 'Violacea'

They have more expensive taste apparently, having feasted on all the Tulipa humilis 'Alba Coerulea Oculata'.

The dogtooth violets are popping up: the exotic,

Erythronium dens canis 'Purple King'

and the native.

Erythronium albidum

The big surprise of the week is this:

Hammamelis 'Sunburst'

one, and only one, bloom on the witch hazel. I had thought it wasn't going to bloom at all this year. Then, while I was finishing cleaning up the celadine poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) by the fence, I spotted the petals and noticed three more buds on a distant branch. Just pathetic; the Forsythia at least will put on a good show. It'll probably be in bloom within the week.
That's all for this report. If you want me, I'll be in the garden.

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Hellebores, Hepatica & Hammamelis: Last Week at Squirrelhaven + wildflower