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In the Spotlight

tolly-beckWritten by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is a horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

What’s in Bloom 

Updated Weekly

TREES 
Cornelian cherry dogwood  Cornus mas
Flowering Cherry  Prunus spp.
Saucer magnolia Magnolia x soulangeana
Serviceberry  Amelanchier spp.
Star magnolia  Magnolia stellata

SHRUBS  
Border forsythia  Forsythia x intermedia 
Flowering quince   Chaenomeles spp.
Japanese andromeda   Pieris japonica
P.J.M. Rhododendron  Rhododendron x P.J.M.
Spring heath   Erica carnea 
Winter hazel  Corylopsis glabrescens

PERENNIALS 
Creeping phlox Phlox subulata
Lenten rose  Helleborous orientalis

BULBS
Crocus  Crocus spp.
Daffodils   Narcissus spp. 
Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum
Hyacinth Hyacinthus orientalis
Squill   Scilla spp.
Tulip  Tulipa spp.

In the Spotlight
Hellebores

Hellebores are evergreen perennials that produce beautiful flowers in late winter to early spring. They are one of the earliest perennials to bloom each year. Hellebores are referred to as evergreen because they maintain their foliage all winter long. They are hardy to zone 4, so do well in our area, in spite of cold weather and snow.

The most popular hellebores are the hellebore hybrids (Helleborous x hybridus), commonly referred to as Lenten Roses. The name is appropriate given that their long bloom time occurs during Lent and the fact that their flowers resemble a single petaled, old-fashioned rose. The two inch, nodding flowers of hellebores can be found in colorful shades ranging from white, green, pink, and purple. Hellebore flowers may also have petals that are spotted with purple.

Hellebores range in height from 12- 18” and grow best in a well-drained soil that contains plenty of organic matter. They do well in part shade and combine beautifully with shrubs as well as other shade loving perennials. At Lasdon hellebores are planted along shaded paths in the Memorial Garden and along the side of the Veterans Museum. 

Hellebores are considered toxic and because of this they are rarely browsed by deer. In addition to being deer resistant, hellebores are low maintenance perennials. If hellebore foliage looks unsightly after going through a difficult winter, simply cut the foliage back to within a few inches of the ground. The flowers will still come up, with the appearance of a beautiful bouquet, and fresh foliage will grow as spring goes into summer.

Consider adding hellebores to your shade or woodland garden this year. Their evergreen foliage is wonderful to see in winter and once hellebores get established their very early flowers are so rewarding.