Seedlings for sons

Yes, I’ve prattled on for weeks about hellebores that began flowering early in February, and many of which remain in bloom the second week of April. Enough, or perhaps too much, but now seedlings of hellebores are readily identifiable, and again there are dozens, probably hundreds.

I’ve promised, but not yet delivered seedlings to my sons’ (and daughter-in-laws’) gardens. One son is a garden designer who could possibly be (but probably won’t be) too jaded by frilly hybrids instead of the plain by comparison  seedlings, but the other is a chemist who grew up with his brother slopping around in the mud and wading in the ponds in our garden. Gardeners have passed along spare plants for as long as there have been gardens, and no apology is necessary to explain the value of free plants, which are as good or better than ones that hard earned money is spent on. Hellebore seedlings are just as good as ones off the garden center shelf, but the price is better.

Many of first year seedlings (above) must be weeded out, for there is no sense trying to find spaces to transplant more hundreds when there are already hundreds in the garden. There is a danger in doing nothing and letting seedlings crowd one another, and there are several older clumps where seedlings have become indistinguishable from the parent.

Usually, I allow a small percentage of seedlings to remain near the parent plant for a few years, and then they’ll be transplanted, or maybe left for another year or two until I get around to moving them. For better or worse, there are no precise rules in this garden, and usually there’s little harm that comes from neglecting things for a year or two.

While most seedlings sprout in close proximity to the parent plant, some seeds are swept away by rainwater, and often these settle into convenient spots where they are left to grow, though one low spot beneath a Chinese dogwood (above) is becoming choked with dozens of four year old seedlings. These are the ones that will be dug out for the sons since they’ve started flowering and attained the appropriate size to be worthwhile to move.