Originally created 03/13/98

Cold weather won't do in Helleborus

Gardeners in the Augusta-Aiken area are watching their gardeners with worrisome eyes this week and hoping their plants will survive the chilly air.

Recent cold weather may kill weaker, less hardy plants that bloomed early this year, but don't worry about helleborus says Peggy Gillingham, a certified nurseryman with Nurseries Caroliniana on Georgia Avenue in North Augusta.

Helleborus is hardy and can be found in hardiness zones 4-9. Zone 4 includes areas as far north as Maine and parts of Canada, where temperatures can dip into the negative 30's and 40's. So the mild winters of Georgia are no threat to it.

The Helleborus orientalis in Genie Lehmann's backyard garden at her home off of Overton Road are in full bloom. She points out more than a dozen helleborus plants growing among azaleas, rosemary bushes and Daphne as she walks in the garden admiring the different colors displayed by the helleborus.

"Anything with the precious little flower on it," is how she describes them. "They are adorable."

The orientalis variety ranges in color from a pale white to a purple color. The inside of the cupped flower is lined with burgundy striations, which Mrs. Lehmann says resemble freckles.

"They are very striking," says Mrs. Gillingham.

Because it is an evergreen plant, it will add color to your garden even after losing it's bloom unlike flowers which disappear underground in their dormant season.

"There is one that hasn't bloomed yet, but is still green and pretty." says Mrs. Lehmann.

Helleborus, which costs $4.99 for a four-inch pot and $7.99 for a gallon pot, is a perennial flower that will last a long time with little care. They are shade lovers and because of their adaptability they can be planted at almost anytime of the year.

While they are very resilient to the cold, Summer can be a critical time for these plants, which need plenty of watering during dry spells.

Mrs. Gillingham says they make a beautiful addition to any garden and can multiply giving you "little volunteer plants" around the parent plant when the plant's seeds drop on the ground.


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