Cherchez La Femme: and Off With Her Head!

IMG_1159I was pleased to find another hellebore just about to open a few days ago but a little puzzled that despite supposedly being yellow she was already displaying a lot of pink froth. Sue at From Sewing Room to Potting Shed showed a picture of her ‘Harvington Double Yellow’ on her blog and I remembered I had bought one of these last year in full flower, so I knew mine was yellow then, and Sue assured me hers didn’t have a pink inbetween stage! On checking my labels, the pink frilly one is actually labelled as ‘Yellow Lady’ and my ‘Harvington Double Yellow’ was safe elsewhere in the woodland edge, but still without flower buds. I know I bought several of the early ‘Lady’ series some years ago as tiny plants, including ‘Blue Metallic Lady’ which of course was never going to be blue, metallic or otherwise, but this young woman has certainly got a severe identity crisis!

An exciting email this week informed me of the impending arrival of some new snowdrops from Avon Bulbs, fortunately arriving the day following postage and still looking as if they had literally just been lifted from the ground. Being already prepared for their arrival, they were quickly potted up in a mixture of John Innes No 3 and vermiculite – working our way through the  remains of a bag of vermiculite that was used in the installation of our Aga over 15 years ago! Since the resurgence of this seasonal obsession, new specimens have been planted in small aquatic baskets (11cm square) and then inserted in the soil, making them easy to lift when division is needed or when impatience to check progress gets the better of me, but also means they are less likely to go wandering or get lost. A few of my more established clumps are now in 13cm round baskets and some are now ready to be upgraded again.

Potted up yesterday, they were planted outside in the snowdrop border this morning, accompanied very fittingly by the swirling of large snowflakes which fortunately didn’t last long but left behind temperatures only a degree or two above freezing, meaning the Golfer IMG_1172is now cold on the roof, instead of wet. The snowdrop border seems to shrug the weather off and is pleasingly dotted with little blobs of white, nicely visible from the kitchen windows. There is one less white blob than there should be though, as when backfilling soil around my beauties I accidentally sliced the head off my new ‘Anglesey Abbey’  Emoji Still, at least you can see at close quarters how beautifully  white she is, with just a hint of green shading on the underside of the inner perianth segments….avon.order

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20 Responses to Cherchez La Femme: and Off With Her Head!

  1. Annette says:

    This helleborus is so beautiful, Cathy, and pink suits it better than yellow. And all these new snowdrops – you’ve certainly been busy. The one in the upper right corner looks huge – is it called Arnold Schwarzenegger by any chance? 😉

    • Cathy says:

      Tee hee – no, that is Mrs Thompson, but I am now imagining her as a Les Dawson charwoman character, if you know what that would be like! 🙂

  2. Very pretty hellebore. I bought a largish yellow-flowering hellebore and planted it in the autumn, very disappointing not to see any buds, maybe next year. Of more concern is the similar lack of budding action on my one remaining H. niger, which flowered profusely last year. Maybe I need to move it to richer soil.

    Is planting in baskets one way to tell a true snowdrop addict from an amateur?! I love the image of you digging up your special snowdrops “just to see”. Poor things, so rude!

    • Cathy says:

      Although I have got several hellebore, Janet, some have taken a long time to establish and then romp more happily, so perhaps will do that in due course. Occasionally I might chuck on some home grown compost but apart from that they don’t get any attention – just admiration! Oh, and at least I am honest at lifting some of the baskets to take a peek – I had a couple that seemed to be no shows, but by peeking I was able to see they were slowly on their way. That probably disqualifies me as an ‘addict’ though…. 😉

  3. Pauline says:

    Poor Anglesey Abbey, being decapitated! I’m sure she will recover for next year. Your pink hellebore is beautiful, even though it should be yellow! I have never felt the need to plant my snowdrops in planting baskets, they just get planted with lots of leaf mould added to the soil, after all, most of them are woodland plants in the wild aren’t they?

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, you are right Pauline – but planting in baskets certainly enabled me to keep tabs on exactly what I had and helped me identify them when the labels were mislaid. The nivalis and floro pleno in the woodland edge border certainly don’t get this treatment – and thrive just as well of course!

  4. rusty duck says:

    The aquatic baskets remind me that I must get working on my anti-mouse bulb planting solution. I am thinking of ‘nests’ made out of steel mesh that I can then sink into the soil.
    Anglesey Abbey is a beauty.

    • Cathy says:

      ‘anti-mouse bulb planting solution’ – it sounds like war! Hope it does indeed solve the problem. When I checked AA again in Freda Cox’s book she says it isn’t always pure white, but mine certainly had no markings other than this shading – very pretty

  5. Christina says:

    I am beginning to think that everyone’s obsession with snowdrops has gone just a little far!

  6. Poor Anglesey Abbey – don’t you just hate when things like that happen. A far too regular occurrence here in my garden! I would never have thought to plant them in aquatic containers but can see how that would be useful. Another tip I can file – you never know when I might need a solution such as this.

    • Cathy says:

      Indeed Angie, and I don’t think there is another bud to come, so that’s it for this year! The baskets are definitely a small price to pay for what is a good ‘safety net’

  7. sueturner31 says:

    Love your ‘not yellow’ hellebore, it’s beautiful…

  8. Chloris says:

    Well, what’s in a name? Your Hellebore is beautiful whatever she is called. I have not got any doubles out yet.
    How exciting to get a box of snowdrops. The Anglesey Abbey I took a photo of at Cambridge Botanic Garden last week was a perfect pure white poculiform snowdrop. How heartbreaking to chop off her lovely head..
    I love your image of Mrs.Thompson as a Les Dawson type charwoman. I imagine she has really untidy hair. But how surprised we’d be if Les Dawson suddenly grew another Mrs. Thompson is likely to do.

    • Cathy says:

      One of the reasons I chose Mrs Thompson was for her two-heads-can-be-better-than-one philosophy – must go and check whether there is any likelihood of that this year….

  9. Anna says:

    Your hellebore is a veritable vision of beautiful pink frothiness Cathy. I think that you will just have to come up with your own name for her. Just wait until you see ‘Mrs Thompson’ in full flow – I think that all thoughts of Les Dawson will disappear from your mind and you will think of an Abba song title. Of course I’ve had to have a nose at your new snowdrops 🙂 Is that ‘Cowhouse Green’ I spy? I had her for a couple of years but she vamooshed without trace but was absolutely stunning.

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, Abba song titles – well, Anglesey Abbey certainly met her Waterloo…. and sent out an SOS… So, do you mean Dancing Queen? Mamma Mia? Super Trouper? Or Money, Money, Money in the case of Cowhouse Green which was my dearest purchase and now you have frightened me by saying yours popped its clogs!!

      • Anna says:

        ‘Dancing Queen’ – will send you a photo over the weekend and you will see why 🙂 I think that in the case of my deceased ‘Cowhouse Green’ it was a winter too many in a pot Cathy so have no fear.

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