Springtome blossoms never fail to lift the spirits

2008-09-25 00:00

August ended as it began — a long succession of Arcadian days. None of the usual blustery three-day Berg winds. And warm. To the extent that blossom has been duped into attempts at flowering, inevitably to be brought back into line with frosts in September. (And God forbid we have a dreaded black frost in October.)

An abelia hedge partly encloses our precious clumps of hellebores. They thrive under a large oak tree (in fact two) getting the morning sun with dappled shade for the rest of the day, during their winter flowering. I can never adequately express my fascination for these woodland charmers. They’ve been called insipid by those who favour primary colours in their flowers. To others their muted hues, from cream to apple green, and pink to sultry maroon, some with smudgy stripes, others with smoky smudges, are a constant delight. I wonder if they would hold the same interest if they flowered in midsummer instead of midwinter? The trick to getting a good view of the downturned flowers is to carefully trim off any leaves that obscure them. Be circumspect though, as their fingered leaves have their own green charm through into summer. Rare treats until not long ago, hellebores are now available in a wide variety. Once established they favour each garden with its own unique selection of self-seeded hybrids.

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