Notes September 17 — Hellebores


Gardeners Exchange Group: Meeting 17 September 2022
Speaker: Betsy Wells
Topic: Hellebores

Members of GEG met at the home of Betsy Wells in Charlestown. Twenty-three members and guests were in attendance. After a social breakfast and time to get reacquainted, Coordinator Kathy Dillon welcomed attendees and asked that we each introduce ourselves and briefly say what our favorite part of gardening might be.

Host Betsy Wells then presented a talk about hellebores, one plant which has made a home in her extensive flower gardens. Betsy related that hellebores appear in early spring around the time of the observance of Lent and are known by the common name of Lenten rose. The blooms are downward facing with evergreen foliage. Blooms last from February through May. The plant requires partial or full shade, and Betsy suggests finding a nice tree and surrounding it with the plants. Hellebores are perennials, can grow in most zones and are deer resistant.

Betsy passed around a book of lovely photos of various hellebore species and comprehensive information for growing hellebores, Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide by C. Colston Burrell and Judith Knott Tyler. Following a brief question and answer period, the group proceeded outside to walk the grounds of Betsy’s extensive and beautiful gardens. Betsy called to our attention her Colchicums, fall-blooming bulbs in the lily family, often called “Autumn Crocus” for their resemblance to the spring-blooming bulbs. Other plants included large pink Zephyranthes lilies, begonias, huge autumn sedum, gladiola, rosemary, cleome, and her favorite cherry tree on the backyard patio. Most impressive were the stone-work flower bed edgings. Over the years, Betsy gathered stones from a farm, hauled them to her home and laid them in an artistic pattern throughout her grounds.

Members had the opportunity to exchange plants from their gardens, while Betsy shared several hellebore diggings with those interested in planting them in their own yard.

Submitted by Jane Blash