Gardeners do strange things. Every year I clear leaves from the hardwood trees that shade my yard, then drive several miles to purchase pine tree refuse from a nursery and spread it on the ground. I get satisfaction from this ritual. It instantly transforms the pathways into a uniform reddish brown and sets them apart from the garden beds, which this time of year are full of decaying leaves and a few early daffodils.
Since I am choosing not to rebel against the realtor who has filled my bathrooms with white towels we can't touch and banished most of the lamps to the shed, I will speak out against the flower breeders who have corrupted one of my favorite flowers. Hellebores, or Lenten rose, are the joy of my garden in late winter.
Hellebores were born to face down, like bells. They evoke modesty and mystery, with their soft pinkish-purplish white petals.
Hellebores don't look good with their stamens showing - they're unusually plain. So I have none of these expensive freaks. All of my hellebores are descended from one parent. Here is mama hellebore.
I love my hellebores because they're really not mine. They grew from seeds I didn't sow and plants I didn't do anything to care for. Here's how to grow hellebores:
1) Wait until they sprout under the parent plant.
2) Thin the seedlings.
3) In a year or so, transplant them into bare spots in the garden.
4) Ignore them for years.
Hellebores take about four years to bloom. That's another thing I appreciate about hellebores - they refuse to accommodate themselves to our need for instant gratification. Appreciate hidden beauty, they say. Marvel at nature's fecundity. Slow down. Wait for transformation. Live on nature's time, not human time.