17 August 2009

Welcome to Hellebores

I believe I've mentioned my love of hellebores (helleborus spp) before. They're beautiful, early blooming, hardy perennials. They're also poisonous, but that's for another post.

Anyone with a garden knows how expensive it can get, especially plants--and particularly when the truth is that plants look best in multiples. At this point in my life, I can't justify spending $15 to $20 per hellebore. At least not when I can grow my own from seed!

All right, so growing hellebores from seed is an undertaking that requires skill, luck, and patience. And since my skill, luck, and patience with seeds in general is, at best, hit or miss I was reluctant to gamble on a $6 packet of hellebore seeds that may or may not germinate for as long as 18 months. Was reluctant, but no more. It finally dawned on me that if I'd just taken the gamble when I first came across said seeds (far longer than 18 months ago) I might have had my coveted plants by now. But better late than never, and especially so in the garden.

According to the directions on the package, you can sow hellebore seeds at any time of the year (although I'm not sure how well that would work with two feet of snow on the ground) in a small pot of "good, well-drained seed compost." I'm using peat pots and Miracle-Gro potting soil. As instructed, I covered the seeds with the soil, watered lightly, and then buried the pots up to their rims outside "in a sheltered position" (in my case, next to the hedge) before covering with a jam jar or piece of glass. Well pieces of glass have a tendency to get moved or broken, and I'm all out of jam jars, so I collected pickle, pasta sauce, and mason jars and used those. I plan to add more seeds as I acquire more empty jars (luckily my mom had a couple of rather large spare jars--usually used to protect young roses--on hand when I asked, so that's two more seeds to try my luck with). Now I just need to make sure the soil doesn't dry out (which I hope to achieve by watering around the jars). And if you don't want to use the jar method, you can also place the small pots in a cold frame.

I'll update with my progress (and the next steps) if and when I have any progress to mention. Hopefully it won't be too long before my garden is graced with flowers like this in late winter/early spring:

And I thought I'd also share the latest photo of the furry bird-feeder invaders. As annoying as they are, I can't resist taking photos of these cute little buggers (Jules was so right--personality really does go a long way). This guy was resting on my pantry roof and was quite obliging about posing for the camera. Now if only they'd be as considerate about staying away from my tomatoes!

Photo of hellebores in bloom from Thompson & Morgan. Other photos by Domicile.

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