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Archive for March, 2013

Helleborus x ericsmithii “Enthusiasm”

Posted by Mark Wessel on March 31st, 2013  •  No Comments »

Helleborus x ericsmithii

I am sure that some of my close horticulture friends tire of me singing the praise of Helleborus x ericsmithii. Frankly, I do not care. If they would only buy this phenomenal floristic spring blooming beauty, they too would be converted to “Ericsmithii enthusiasm.”

Where do I start the praise? First, they are floriferous beyond belief. The number of blooms per plant is truly remarkable.

Helleborus x ericsmithii

The floriferous nature of the plant resides in the fact that it is sterile. The flowers are not fertile and do not set seeds. This allows the plant to spend much more time on being beautiful.

H.x ericsmithii " Winter Bliss"

The second desirable trait is flower orientation. They hold their flowers above the foliage, facing up and out. Many of Helleborus x hybridus hang their heads down, requiring you kneel  to truly enjoy their flowers.

The foliage is also outstanding, always clean and healthy. Unlike the H.x hybridus, there is often very little annual removal of the previous years foliage. Only the occasional dead or torn leaf needs attention.

H. x ericsmithii showing nice clean winter foliage.

Helleborus x ericsmithii has a slightly complicated parentage. Helleborus niger was crossed with Helleborus x sternii. Helleborus x sternii is a cross between Helleborus argutifolius and Helleborus lividus.

The variation in Ericsmithii cultivars is minor. White, cream and pink colored blossoms often fading to pink with varying levels of leaf color, leaf venation and stem color account for most of this variation.

H. x ericsmithii "WInter Moonbeam" foliage

Until recently H.x Ericsmithii has been hard to find locally. Ivory Prince was often our only option. Last spring I started seeing more variety in the finer garden stores in our area. Pipkins Market and Greenfield Plant Farm would a good place to start you search in Cincinnati. Just a few weeks ago Lowe’s Home Improvement had a big rack of the variety “Winter Bliss”. Mail order is still going to offer the best variety. Pine Knot Farms and Fraser’s Thimble Farms have an excellent selection.

So go out and make the effort to find these plants. Stunning sterile flower power at its best.

Posted in : Perennials, winter bloomers  •  Tags: , , , ,

Spring 2013? What a difference a year makes.

Posted by Mark Wessel on March 21st, 2013  •  1 Comment »

March 23 2012

Could we just have a normal spring? Comparing March 2012 to March 2013 could hardly be more different.

March 20 2013

This year it seems that winter will never end. Cold and wet with below normal temperature. Last year we seemed to skip spring and went straight into summer.

Summer Snowflakes March 19 2012

By this time in the month of March last year we already had 2 days in the 50°s, 7 days in the 60°s, 5 days in the 70°s and we were in the middle of a 4 day stretch in the 80°s.

March 2013 Snow instead of Summer Snowflakes

This year in March we have had 4 days in the 50°s, 2 day in the 60°s. No 70°s or 80°s.

March 2013 we have dad 14 days in the 40°s or lower.

Magnolia denudata March 19 2012

March 2012 only 3 days in the 40°s and 1 day in the 30°s.

Magnolia denudata March 20 2013

Needless to say, its cold and it sucks this march. Winter seems endless. The landscapes are still brown and nearly lifeless. Most of the plants that are active and blooming are welcome introductions from other countries. The native flora is hardly stirring. The soil is too wet and cold for most vegetable gardening. Many gardening task are on hold till the weather and soil warms.

Hellebore March 20 2013

Last year, march was too darn hot. We had no easing into the warmth. Everything was blooming at once and the landscape was green. We actually missed a season of gardening chores. The woodlands were verdant and blooming.

Trillium grandiflorum March 22 2012

Will we ever have a normal year? A year where the temperatures gradually increase as spring and summer approach. Maybe and inch of rain per week during the summer months.

Snowdrops and Tommy Crocus

Next year lets just have the average between the two years.

Posted in : Annuals, Uncategorized  •