Maybe next year

I cannot recall the time that I started and completed any task in the garden before the very last minute, or later. Occasionally, this rushing around results in complications. Winter weeds (and weeds in general) are rarely plucked before they spew thousands of seeds that will grow next winter’s crop, and it would seem that I would learn after repeating this mistake for three or four decades. Someday, I promise, but then the day is a bit too wet or cold, and I spend the afternoon cozy beside the fire.

I suspect that there are others out there who share in these failures, and I will assure you that it’s alright. Seldom does catastrophic harm result, though a time or two my hurried labor has destroyed a treasure by mistake, or as happened this afternoon, a cable to something was sliced in half. Hopefully, it is the telephone, which I haven’t answered in the past decade.

Nodding flowers of winter flowering hellebores must be lifted for viewing, and foliage must be moved aside if leaves have not been removed.

Nodding flowers of winter flowering hellebores must be lifted for viewing, and foliage must be moved aside if leaves have not been removed.

On occasion, through this winter I’ve considered cutting back foliage of the hellebores, but this thought occurs regularly every winter, and most often the leathery leaves are cut just as flowers are opening. The flowers of hellebores are often nestled down into the foliage, and if leaves are cut in December when buds are small the task is much easier. In late winter the swollen buds get in the way, which prolongs the labor. Of course, in this very warm early winter the problem was that hellebore buds swelled by mid December, and many flowered by late in the month. Even if I was organized and motivated to do the job when it should be done every other year, it was too late.

A small twig can be handy to flip a hellebore flower upright for viewing.

A small twig can be handy to flip a hellebore flower upright for viewing.

Then, as if another excuse was needed, the garden was buried under three feet of snow, and shaded parts of this garden don’t melt until weeks after the rest of the neighborhood. When the hellebores emerged, they were in full flower, and what’s the use in even trying? So, I didn’t, and as it is with so many other things in the garden (and in life), the worrying is much of the problem. The flowers are only slightly more difficult to view, and yes, it would be better if the foliage had been removed, but it wasn’t.

Flowers on Molly's White hellebore rise above it's heavily veined leaves.

Flowers on Molly’s White hellebore rise above it’s heavily veined leaves.

In recent days there has been a revelation. On the first warm afternoon I planted several each of two hellebores that have flowers perched atop long stalks that rise above the foliage. I cannot be certain, but I suspect these were bred specifically for me, or at least for gardeners who are too occupied with other things (lazy) and never get around to cutting back the foliage. I am not always a fan of newly bred plants, but this is brilliant. Now, there are six hellebores that will not require foliage being cut off, and a few hundred that do. It’s a start.

Flowers of Penny's Pink hellebore stand on tall stems.

Flowers of Penny’s Pink hellebore stand on tall stems.

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