On our way down the mountain after a day spent at Barry Glick's Hellebore Farm I said to Nicolette "It's going to take me a long time to process today."
A few hours later, en route to Charlottesville, the last leg of our southern tier flower farm tour she said to me "Today ranks high on the list of days."
Helleborus. What is it about this plant that gardeners and floral enthusiast find so captivating?
They are early bloomers - often pushing up flowers through snow cover. They are phenomenally deer resistant. They stand up well to dry periods. Their delicate blooms face down more often than up, a quiet and modest specimen. On Barry's eight hillside acres of planted hellebores we ran around for hours in muddy boots and jeans yelling to each other ...
"You have to come see this one!" Bending over flipping up flowers to the dappled sunshine (shade plants!) pulling out iphones and cameras in a feeble attempt to document and capture the gorgeousness that these few weeks in February and March make possible; small, impossibly detailed flowers. We got the fever.
A few hours in, we had spent too long already on the hillside (home to over 50,000 stock plants) and needed to go find Barry in the greenhouses to do our business. The business of trying to wrangle a few fully developed plants from the most serious hellebore grower. We succeeded, and brought back around 15 gallon plants that will be cut up in tomorrow's hellebore focused flower arranging class and then planted in the handful of gardens that exist between the two of us.
At the beginning of the day, after a harrowing 5 mile drive up the side of Barry's mountain we arrived at Sunshine farm and were rushed by a haggle of old dogs and an ornery horse named Morgan who promptly tried to eat my camera strap..."We have to bring Jill here next year." I said. She would love it.
To be able to travel to the far reaches of this world in search of the best specimens is an overwhelming privilege. To be able to share some part of that with students and followers is the best part of the process.
We encourage you to visit Barry's website here. Another fantastic hellebore grower we visited earlier in the weekend was Pine Knot Farm. Some people have asked about the fragility of hellebores as cut flowers - the key to keeping them longer than a few hours in water is to cut only the stems that have already been pollinated, after the seed pods have begun to form. At this stage they should last 7+ days in water.