Tag Archives: Helleborus foetidus

Six on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018

How time flies. I left for a 10-day trip to Eastern Europe on August 30, followed up with eight weeks of GFWC Region Meetings in eight states (Nevada, Nebraska, Maine, Indiana, New York, Mississippi, Texas, and North Carolina), and returned home last night from a super-secret (and very exciting!) location where I evaluated hotels for a convention (yes, GFWC again) that will be held in 2021.

The neglected garden, as you would guess, doesn’t offer much to crow about. Even still, I thought it would be good for us to catch up with Six on Saturday (hosted by the Propagator) for a look at what’s happening outdoors now.

(1) Our rainy spring and summer have been followed by an equally wet autumn, but while some of the season’s colorful foliage was washed away with the 5+ inches of rain that assaulted us earlier this week, this small hickory (seen from the sunporch) tempted me outside early this morning to find more seasonal treasures.

DSC_7456

At the peak of its color, this hickory (Carya) is a sight to behold, especially when touched by the sun in early morning.

(2) Surprisingly, other deciduous trees and shrubs, including many of our oaks and this frosty Chinese paperbush, are still green. It’s good to see, however, that its flower buds have formed and are growing quickly.

DSC_7458

A favorite shrub, the Chinese paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), blooms in late winter.

(3) Nearby, nestled under a small tree and surrounded by ferns and low-growing shrubs, a large bear’s-foot hellebore is also in good form. Its inch-wide flowers, which will begin to open in just weeks, will be pale green with purplish-red edges.

DSC_7461

An eye-catcher, this bear’s-foot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) offers lime-colored bloom stalks and silvery flower buds against dark, fine-textured foliage.

(4) In the secret garden, another plant with fine-textured foliage, Mahonia ‘Soft Caress,’ is already in bloom. During the growing season, its plant companions include Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), hosta, and other shade-loving perennials. But as you can see through the shrub’s bamboo-like foliage, these herbaceous plants are sleeping now.

DSC_7478

This Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’ grows in part shade.

(5) I typically photograph this native shrub, commonly called silver-leaf hydrangea (for the white flocking on the underside of its foliage), in midsummer with its blooms covered in pollinators. The plant is just as beautiful in the cool season, though, don’t you think? Dried to a crisp, the flower heads will persist through winter wind and snow.

DSC_7475

Native to Appalachia, this Hydrangea radiata grows in the woodland garden on the north-facing terraces that slope down to the Reedy River.

(6) Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing this photo of autumn foliage on the floor of the woodland garden, which features a torn and crumpled discard from a bigleaf magnolia. The tree, planted just 3 years ago, will grow slowly until it reaches 30 or more feet tall. It’s less than a third of that size now, but this leaf is more than 2-feet long. Incredible!

DSC_7466

The leaves of Magnolia macrophylla can reach 2 to 3-feet long.

 

 

My Top Ten March Blooms

It’s been a long time (149 days to be exact) since I’ve visited you here, but spring inspires and encourages in a way that can’t be denied. And besides, what better time is there to write about a garden, especially a shady garden, than when it offers its finest flowers. So here is a happy look at the best of March with a nod to Chloris at the Blooming Garden and the other bloggers who post their top ten at the close of each month.

Halesia carolina is the undisputed Queen of this Upstate garden, where it grows in abundance on a north-east facing hillside reaching down to the Reedy River.

DSC_3651

Halesia carolina

Commonly called Carolina Silver Bell, this medium size tree can reach 30 to 40 feet tall and nearly as wide under a broken canopy of towering hardwoods. Just as its leaves begin to emerge, the tree blooms  with bell-shaped white flowers that look like old-fashioned petticoats and then, later, it forms four-winged seedpods that often persist into winter. In autumn, its deciduous foliage turns a rich golden yellow.

Although the Erythronium americanum (trout lilies) and Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) have completed their bloom period, there is still a mix of wildflowers to be found in the woodland.

DSC_3668

Trillium cuneatum

Trillium cuneatum (little sweet Betsy) ranks high on my list of favorites. Arising from a fleshy rhizome, each stem has a whorl of three leaves topped by a single flower with three petals. This species is the largest and most vigorous of the sessile trilliums found in the eastern U.S.  If you’re willing to get down on your knees for a whiff, you’ll find it has a slightly sweet fragrance reminiscent of bananas.

DSC_3478

Jeffersonia diphylla

Known as twin leaf (for obvious reasons), Jeffersonia diphylla was named by John Bartram to honor the third U.S. President. Unlike the above trillium, which is naturally occurring here, this species was purchased and added to the woodland garden a few years ago. The southern end of its range includes the mountains of Tennessee and Georgia. Surprisingly, it is a member of the Barberry family.

DSC_3679

Mertensia virginica

Many will recognize Martensia virginica, called Virginia bluebells, which are easy to grow in the right conditions (rich, moist soil and full to part shade), but seem to spread ever so slowly. With luck and patience, they form loose clumps about 18-inches wide.

DSC_3680

Rhododendron austrinum

In a nearby opening with a bit more sun, I’ve planted a collection of native deciduous azaleas, including this Rhododendron austrinum, known as the Florida flame azalea, or sometimes called the honeysuckle azalea. As you would guess from its common names, its fragrant blooms create a show-stopping display.

Above the river terraces, the back garden features two ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Amelanchier x grandiflora, better known as serviceberry.

DSC_3654

Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’

A hybrid of two southern natives, the small tree’s March flowers produce May fruits, which are loved by the birds and are a valuable source of food during their nesting season. This particular cultivar is distinguished with strong stems and vibrant orange-red color in autumn.

And here is a quick look at what’s blooming in the ornamental spaces surrounding the house:

DSC_3657

Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’

The dwarf ‘Chocolate Chip’ ajuga makes a handsome mat of bronze-tinged foliage but, thankfully, doesn’t self-seed as aggressively as many of its kin.

DSC_3663

Helleborus foetidus

My favorite hellebore with especially fine foliage and erect stems of lime-green flowers.

DSC_3665

Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’

A stunning woodland phlox with outstanding color and very full flower petals.

DSC_3660

Dicentra spectabilis

And finally, this eye-catching bleeding heart, an old garden favorite with big, rose-pink flowers on long stems reaching from a beautiful mass of blue-green foliage.

I’m sorry to say I can’t promise an equal number of blooming beauties every month, but I do hope to begin blogging again on a more regular basis.

In the meantime, remember these words written by Christopher Lloyd: “An early spring is always tremendously encouraging, and never mind what follows in the way of April frosts, or what have you. The great thing in life is to fling yourself into wholehearted enjoyment of the present, whenever there’s something to be enjoyed.”