We continue to be impressed with the continuing parade of new selections of sterile lenten roses, in particular, the clones of Helleborus x iburgensis. These fascinating hybrids that originated at RD plants in England, are crosses of Helleborus x ballardiae (niger x lividus) x Helleborus x hybridus. In other words, these hybrids have up to 5-7 different species in each.
Because two of the parents, Helleborus niger and Helleborus lividus, both have outfacing flowers, the flowers on the Iburgensis hybrids all carry that trait. Additionally, most every lenten rose cross with Helleborus niger is effectively sterile. Interestingly, Helleborus niger is the most cold hardy of all lenten rose species, while Helleborus lividus is the least cold hardy, but the most heat tolerant.
Below are a series of photos from the gardens here over the last few weeks of some of the clones we have tried. We find these an exceptional group, many with pink to cream variegation, that should be much more widely grown. Hardiness is Zone 5a-8b, at least.
Here are some of the latest crop of amazing Helleborus x hybridus to flower in the garden. If you attend our Winter Open Nursery and Garden this week or next, you will see these in person. Plant Delights will also have a pretty incredible crop of these for sale during the open house days. We hope to see you in person!
New colors of Helleborus x hybridus are opening daily, so here are a few shots from the garden today, showing the incredible range of colors that are available. We hope you can join us for our upcoming Winter Open Nursery and Garden and enjoy these in person.
Looking great for the last couple of weeks in the garden are the double forms of the Christmas rose, one of the first hellebores to bloom in the garden. This clump of Helleborus niger ‘Snowbells’ is looking particularly nice. Hardiness zone 3a to 7b.
The earliest of the lenten roses, Helleborus x hybridus, have just opened. Depending on the genetics of each clone, they will continue to open until mid-March. Flowering on each variety continues for many weeks to over a month if the temperatures remain cool. Only a few weeks remain before our Winter Open Nursery and Garden, when you can visit and see these first hand in the garden, and even select your own flowering plants from our on-site nursery, Plant Delights.
Below are more of the Ice n’ Roses snow roses flowering now in the gardens at JLBG. These amazing sterile hybrids were created in Germany by the Heuger plant breeding company. They have proven fabulous in our trials, but are still often difficult to find due to the screwy production cycle.
Because these snow roses, as Heuger calls them, are clonal and sterile, they can only be commercially produced by tissue culture, which is all done overseas. The non-rooted microplants are shipped in sterile containers to the US, where they are received at rooting stations (nurseries capable of putting roots on these microplants).
There are only three North American rooting stations used by Heuger, one in Canada, and one on each of the US coasts. Once the microplants have roots and have grown large enough, they are purchased by finish growers, who pot and grow them for 2-3 months before they are a saleable size.
For a finish grower or retail nursery to have plants available to sell in late winter or early spring, they would need to receive liners (small plants with roots) from the rooting stations in September/October. The problem is that these rooting stations usually get their unrooted microplants from overseas in fall, when their losses are less and the plants finish faster.
Consequently, these rooting stations only have plants available for the finish growers from February – April. This means that the finish grower and retailer will only have plants ready to sell at the beginning of summer, which is certainly not ideal unless you live in the northern tier of states or Canada.
The only option a finished grower has is to hold the plants through the summer and fall, to have them available in the late winter flowering season. This drives up the crop cost dramatically, since a nursery has an overhead cost per square foot per month of growing space. Until a change is dictated by the grower throughout the supply chain, it is unlikely that the supply will be able to keep up with the potential demand. Anyone think making plants available is easy?
Every year, we grow thousands of lenten roses from our own seed collections in the garden. Most, we sell at our Winter Open Nursery and Garden as Helleborus x hybridus ‘Winter Delights’. All of our Winter Delights hellebores are hand selected by color after they flower. Every now and then, an incredibly unique form gets pulled for the gardens and here is one of those from a few years ago. This amazing plant has huge 3.5″ wide flowers, and was already in full flower by January 1. We hope everyone can visit our upcoming Winter Open House and see the amazing hellebore selections in the garden.
The Helleborus x gladorfensis hybrids, known as the “Ice n’ Roses” series have begun with the opening of Helleborus ‘Ice n’ Roses Barolo’. This is the earlies flowering and darkest clone in the series…just a shade darker than H. ‘Ice n’ Roses Red’. These are sterile hybrids derived from crossed of Helleborus niger with Helleborus x hybridus. Winter hardiness is Zone 5a-8b.
We are rightly skeptical of great new plant claims, since so many new introductions fail to live up to the marketing hype, so we were cautiously optimistic when we planted our first trial plants of Helleborus x glandorfensis a couple of years ago.
These new, thought to be impossible hybrids of Helleborus niger x Helleborus x hybridus, have indeed lived up to the marketing hype. They are similar to the incredible Helleborus x iburgensis hybrids, which preceded them (crosses of Helleborus niger, hybridus, and lividus), but without Helleborus lividus, which produces the leaf veination, but reduces the flower size slightly.
The H. x glandorfensis hybrids (created by breeders in Glandorf, Germany) have dark, black green foliage, with flowers which are ridiculously large for a lenten rose.
Both the H. x glandorfensis and the x iburgensis hybrids have outfacing flowers and do not produce seed. You can’t go wrong with any of these amazing hybrids for the winter garden!
With temperatures in the upper 70’s it doesn’t feel much like winter here in Raleigh, NC, but nonetheless it is time for our Winter Open Nursery & Garden Days! Starting tomorrow February 24-26 and next weekend March 3-5, take advantage of the opportunity shop our sales houses as well as explore the gardens here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. We will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 8am-5pm and Sundays from 1pm-5pm.
Hellebores blooming in the sales house
New this year, we’re excited to announce our garden chat series “Gardening Unplugged” during each Open Nursery and Garden Days in 2017. These will be 15 minute presentations, many by Tony, himself, focused on seasonally prominent plants and garden design ideas. Meet at the Welcome Tent near the parking lot to join us!
Also, on both Saturdays, Feb. 25 and March 4, Zeke’s Meats food truck will be here from 11am-2pm, so you can refuel after a day of frenzied shopping!
Our sales houses are stocked – let the shopping begin.
During your visit, allow time to meander through the gardens to see what’s in bloom, get design ideas and add to your wish list. Our gardens contain many rare and valuable specimens so please stay on the pathways and leave pets at home. We look forward to seeing you here!
Hellebores are the gems of the winter woodland garden. Hellebores, also known as lenten rose, come in a wide range colors and flower forms, they are deer resistant and drought tolerant once established.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Confetti Cake’
This year we are pleased to offer many new hellebore hybrids from the breeding work of Hans Hansen at Walters Gardens.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Blushing Bridesmaid’
We are continuing to add new hellebores to our website monthly, including selections from our own breeding. Be sure to visit during our annual Winter Open Nursery and Garden, Feb. 24-26 and March 3-5, to enjoy the many hellebores blooming in the gardens as well as selecting a few gems for your own.
Helleborus ‘Pippa’s Purple’ in the sales house with close-up of flower.
Hellebores that will be released for sale shortly – Rose Quartz, Golden Lotus, and French Kiss