Monday, April 9, 2012

Earth Laughs with Flowers

Leaves of Cyclamen ‘Something Magic’
mimic a mini Christmas Tree while
its bright pink blooms thrill Feb.-Mar.
“Earth laughs with flowers” is a frequently quoted line in a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It resonates with gardeners and is emblematic of spring. Along those lines, I recently watched a PBS program about Amish communities and their strong faith. One of the first spoken sentences in the program was: “We are closest to God when we work the earth.” Both sentiments reflect what gardening means to me: connecting to the vibrant energy of Mother Earth.

I was visiting Terra Nova Nurseries, Canby, Ore., and I wanted to see how the “earth was laughing” in their beautiful display garden. In spite of our cooler than normal late winter, there was a lot to see; all of which would add late winter garden interest that could be visually enjoyed through a window from the warmth of our homes . In particular, the hellebores were stunning, the cyclamen were little bursts of joy with leaves and flowers adding interest to the ground level of the garden, and the Pulmonaria were sparkling. In addition to the floral candidates, Corydalis, Bergenia and Huechera added textural leaf interest and color, either with newly emerging leaves or leaves remaining from last year. And Sedum ‘Pool Party’ transformed rainwater into little gems, accentuating soft green, fleshy mounds of leaves.

Hellebore hybrid ‘Honeyhill Joy’
has subtle flowers but creates a big impact

One, three, or swaths of any of these would be exceptional in our Northwest gardens. Dave Doolittle, Terra Nova’s marketing director, went so far as to say, “If I had to pick one plant to start a garden, it would be ‘Honeyhill Joy’ hellebore.” After seeing it in the display garden, I’d have to agree. All photos were taken March 16, 2012. 

The flowers of Sedum ‘Pool Party’
appear July as large flat clusters of
pink and last through Oct.

Not sure why this pulmonaria is called
‘Trevi Fountain’ unless it’s because its bright
blue flowers and spotted leavers are over-the-top
The result of Terra Nova’s breeding
program, hellebore ‘Hot Flash’
has unusual late-blooming flower
color and stamens and also offers
serrated leaves for texture
The “crisp” series of heuchera
showcases ruffled foliage

Cymbalaria ‘Snow Wave’, the
first variegated Kenilworth ivy,
is planted with Cyclamen ‘Sweetheart Sparkle’
and its dramatically-shaped leaves
(it blooms Aug.-Nov.)

Scott Christy, sale manager for Terra Nova
Nurseries and an exceptional gardener in his
own right, recommends under planting
dark-petaled hellebores like ‘London Fog’
with white crocus or other white
early-blooming small bulbs so they
stand out in the garden

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