Today is blustery and cold, barely above freezing by mid afternoon, but the sun is shining after several damp days so I must get out into the garden. There are no chores that must be done immediately, but areas of hellebores have become congested by seedlings, so this seems a reasonable task for the day that can be interrupted for frequent trips indoors to thaw chilly fingers.
With the first of February a few days off, the itch for spring is stronger by the day. While there have been no periods of extreme cold this winter, there have also been too few mild days, to my thinking. The forecast for early February looks no different, though I will not be surprised if highs of fifties and warmer become more regular late in the month.
With dozens of mature hellebores in the garden there are hundreds of seedlings, and today ones that have grown to flowering size will be relocated so that parents and progeny have more space. The most congested area of hellebores has no parent plants at all, but seeds drain from long established clumps into this area beneath several spring flowering camellias at the garden’s border. While shallow roots from maples in the forest, and from a nearby Chinese dogwood invade the area, there are pockets of deep soil where hellebores grow vigorously. But also in close proximity, so ones that have grown to flowering size will be moved, to plant beneath tall hydrangeas and sweetshrubs.
The digging of three and four year old hellebores is quite simple, accomplished with the garden knife (above) since the roots are rather compact. While the top layer of exposed soil is frozen, this area is leaf covered and will remain thawed except in the coldest winter temperatures. The hellebores’ roots often must be pried away from the dogwood’s, but this is not difficult, and a dozen or more will be moved this afternoon.
On occasion, I read with envy about a gardener’s acre plot of hellebores, and though mine will never match this, there are more areas to be planted. I hope that more can be done in milder weather, but I’m happy to be occupied in the garden today after too many days trapped indoors.