P90313This is why I do not grow hellebores in my own garden. The specimen in the pictures above and below are about as good as they get here. Most are quite a bit worse. Some put out only one or two flowers. Some do not survive their first year in the garden.
No one seems to know why they don’t do well here. It might be the lack of chill in winter, although they do better in even milder climates. It might be the minimal humidity, although they generally do no better in the damp redwood forests where the specimen in these pictures lives. Those that might get too much sunlight do no better or worse than those that get too much shade. They are simply not happy here.
My solution to this ‘problem’ is to not grow them in my own garden. I do not particularly like them anyway. Even those that look ‘good’ look like huge African violets dipped in paraffin. Those in the landscapes that I work with now are the colors of worn vinyl upholstery of 1970s Chryslers. Yup, I will pass on hellebores. ‘Problem’ solved before it happened.
That ‘solution’ does not work for everyone.
Some landscapers get what they can from the few growers who will grow them here, and plant them in all sorts of landscapes that they just do not belong in. Some will do it because they read somewhere that hellebores do well in shade, which is technically true, but only in regions where other environmental conditions are appropriate. Some do it because they saw pretty pictures of them, and read a nice article about them in some gardening magazine that features such articles about what does well where the respective magazines are published.
Sadly, many do it because hellebores are a fad here, and something that many landscapers with something to prove like to brag about. They are like dawn redwood and unusual varieties of Japanese maple that are so often installed into inappropriate situations just so the landscaper can add pictures of them to their portfolios. Fortunately, hellebores merely struggle or die without causing any other damage to the landscape.
There are a few kinds of fads, and some of them actually make sense, but good landscape designers should use fads responsibly and with discretion.P90313+


19 thoughts on “Horridculture – Fads

    1. I would agree with that, except that I really do not know what they like. I know they can take significant heat in some climates, but only if other conditions are favorable. I saw them doing quite well in Reno, where summers are quite warm but winters are quite cool.

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  1. Ack! So true! Hellebores are a “thing” here too. You go to our big flower and garden show in late February and that’s all that’s there. You would think we couldn’t grow anything else.

    I actually do have a couple with insipid whitish flowers. I grow them because they are evergreen, even for me, and I use the interesting foliage in cut greens arrangements.


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    1. Evergreen?! Even mine are not evergreen. The foliage sort of lasts through winter, but lays flat and starts to deteriorates half way through, particularly where it gets covered from redwood debris from above.


    1. There is not much of anything in my garden. It is really just storage for a few stock plants that I lack space for. It is out in a redwood forest, where it is impossible to get good pictures of anything anyway. Therefore, all my pictures are from the landscapes at work. I Intend to make more of my garden, but that is a few years away. A few pictures of my garden can be seen here. https://tonytomeo.com/2018/01/28/brent-is-still-an-idiot/

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  2. I love Helleborus but only original colors (Victorian fabrics come to mind whenever I see them). There’s simply too much fiddling with things now, especially multicoloured things – I feel many people are frightened of single strong colours.

    It’s yet another wynd in the baroque turn; sign of a serious course correction around the corner.

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      1. Just that societies at their end often become Baroque; their art, culture, society, morals become over-finessed, fiddly and corrupt. And then they collapse or undergo revolution, altho’ not always for the better.

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      2. That is sort of what I figured it meant. Someone else just asked me about the decline of expertise in the horticultural industries. It is difficult to not get carried away with elaboration on such matters.


    1. They are the same varieties that do so well up in Oregon. That is where most come from, although many of ours likely grew from seed from those varieties. I can not explain why thy look like this here. These happen to be wet from the rain, which makes them look worse I suppose.


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