Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Helleborus 'Birkin's Black'

I have several hellebores in my garden, but so far this is my favorite. I like it for several reasons: one, it's not a variety that's easy to find; two, my friend (Shady Character) gave it to me; three, it's got black flowers; and four, it has interesting divided foliage that suggests H. foetidus parentage. 'Birkin's Black' is not really an official name (it doesn't have one). That's just what my friend calls it because it was bred by Graham Birkin, a hellebore breeder in England. Of my 3 small divisions, this one has the most flowers. I'm considering under planting it with a lighter-colored companion to make its dark flowers and dark green foliage stand out.

Of my other hellebores, only 2 are named, and one of those names escapes me at the moment. I have an 'Onyx Odyssey' in the chocolate garden, a pink-flowered variety from another friend's garden, 2 seedlings from Sunshine Farm and Gardens (bred by Barry Glick), and a new pink-flowered one with a name that I acquired from work this winter.

Hellebores are great plants. They're more or less evergreen, so they provide a long season of interest. Even when the flowers fade, the colorful bracts remain and look like faded flowers themselves for months. They thrive in the deep shade of my oak trees. On top of that, they're drought tolerant, which makes them my kind of plant.

The pink hellebore. Ok, maybe it's more mauve.

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