A Gardening Life – January 4
In the past I’ve written that my idea of “winter interest” is really a cup of tea and a good book…or rather a cup of tea and whatever book I’m writing at the moment. Yet this isn’t completely true. There are places in my landscape where I’ve purposefully created areas that will delight me at this time of year. Sometimes we have to make our own fun.
The Hellebores that are blooming next to the kitchen door, for example. I resisted this perennial for far too long and I can’t imagine why. “Who needs flowers that bloom in the winter?” I said to a friend. Now that I have them I wonder what in the hell I was thinking. Who needs winter flowers? Me!
The key for the ultimate Hellebore satisfaction is to place them where you’ll pass by them at this time of year. Plant these Christmas and Lenten Roses next to the door you use when you fill the birdfeeder, or out by the mailbox if that area also happens to be shady. If the kitchen window above your sink looks out to a part-shade bed, by all means plant some Hellebores there too.
The second type of winter interest can be created by leaving a few chosen perennials or annuals in place through this season. I don’t cut the stems of my hardy Hibiscus, for example. I tend to leave most grasses and Russian Sage untrimmed as well because all of these look great when bent over with the weight of snow and ice. Of fundamental importance here is to not leave all your annuals or perennials in place, but just a few here and there.
Finally, some flowerpots, watering cans, or other containers can look great in the winter landscape. Move them around periodically to shake things up and refresh what you’re looking at. In the winter we need all the excitement we can get, and you can grow that!
Sharing the Wealth
- Don’t leave breakable clay or cement pots outside since the freezing and thawing may crack them. On the other hand, if you already have some cracked or broken pots, using them for winter displays is a way to recycle and reuse what would otherwise be tossed out.
- Hellebores grow best in locations where they get either dappled sun though a canopy of trees, or sunlight at the beginning or end of the day. They also like a soil that’s neutral to slightly alkaline in pH, so dump your fireplace or woodstove ashes around these plants…once the ashes and coals are cold, of course.
- If the area you live in is likely to have repeated snowfalls you might want to consider pink-flowering Hellebores so that they show well against the snow.