Taking Center Stage: We love the interplay of airy stems and boldly colored blooms against the backdrop of dense, bushy foliage. The flower colors pop smartly against the gray-green foil.
With Labor Day fast approaching, Jill and I strolled around the gardens to capture a few of our favorite late-summer stars. We hope you find them as entertaining as we do.
Chorus of White: Galtonia candicans, or summer hyacinth (a hardy, late-blooming bulb); Cleome hassleriana, 'Sparkler White'; Nicotiana sylvestris ‘Only the Lonely' and N. langsdorffii ; Gaura lindheimeri (a naturalizing perennial); Ammi majus, or Bishop's weed; Callicarpa dichotoma f. Albifructa, or Beauty berry (which produces stunning clusters of white berries); Buddleja davidii 'White Profusion', or Butterfly bush; Eupatorium perfoliatum, or Boneset, among others
Back-Up Singers, All: Jill's been trying to create a white palette in the Parterre Garden for more than six years. "It's very hard to find white-flowering plants that will bulk up," she explains. This spring, in a last-ditch effort, she scattered annual seed heads from the past two years' growth among the perennials. The effect is very different from that of the previous photos in that no one plant or flower stands out. Instead, it is delightfully meadow-like. Kudos to the lichen adorning the bench for lending their complimentary silver-gray-green coloring.
I BORE WITNESS to a family’s sorrow recently, and so, went to Bedrock to find solace. As I stood on the expansive lawn looking out at Grass Acre, the slightest breeze whispered among the grasses, creating a mosaic of moving color. Behind that, the stately trees of the Swaleway offered a multitude soothing greens and blues, while the sunlit hayfields of the neighbor’s horse farm lay beyond.
Despite myself, I began to feel peace. I could breathe deeply again. The mid-afternoon colors were soft and muted, as if to say, ‘Now is not our time, but we are here for you.’ Bird song was drifting down from the treetops, and a new hatching of brown moths flitted erratically around us, careening into things, seemingly without any control over the direction of their short lives.
“I lay down weeping on the grass just now and was thankful for the quiet and the finches and the sky.”
How does nature soothe and heal? Physically, at first. Being outside embraced by fresh air, with beautiful sights, smells and sounds engaging all of our senses, we can’t help but be “in the moment.” The gardens at Bedrock make this easy for us: Jill and Bob designed them to draw us in, bit by bit, to move us away from the surrounding roads (and civilization) and toward our inner selves. Even the physical act of moving through the gardens is meditative, says Jill. “Walking is calming. It’s the pace of a heartbeat.”
There are long, serene vistas here. (Gardens teach us patience.) There is water. (Gardens allow for reflection). And all along the way, there are places to sit, “to come to a full halt,” explains Jill. “It is an immersive experience where you can lose your bearings, and not mind.”
As a good friend reminded me, “We are nature.” When we allow ourselves time to truly be in her presence, we open ourselves up to her gift of healing. Our gardens are open-air houses of worship, offering us easy, daily access to a mental and spiritual life. The key, explains Peter Cock in Gardening: Good for Our Soul, is to humble ourselves before her rhythms and to accept that we are in partnership with nature--interdependent--not lords and ladies over her.
Call it “faith,” if you will, but it is in these spaces that nature shows us there is a meaning to and purpose for everything. The little brown moths? Scientists tell us that such lepidopterans detect currents of scent in the air and veer toward them, constantly readjusting their course. Their ultimate destination is a flower, for its nectar; their ultimate purpose for nature, pollination. In that certainty, there is solace.
Sparkling ocean vistas, the warm hues of a New England sunset, or the earthy, mossy scent of a pine forest: These natural experiences of a grander scale certainly engage our senses and fill us with harmony. But it is in our gardens that we can truly see ourselves in the mix: “Gardening attunes us to life’s struggles for renewal, richness and balance,” says Cock.
Life can be messy, unpredictable, and unfair, our plant scapes say. Flowers blossom when the sun is shining, and tilt (and sometimes fall) when the storms come. But life will go on, in one way or another. When we partner up with nature in our gardens, she enables us to persevere through it all--not just doggedly but with beauty and art and music.
FLANKING THE WIGGLE WAGGLE water feature at Bedrock Gardens is the Garish Garden, a 100-foot-long bed of bold, showy sculptures, plants, shrubs and trees. This is the garden in which plants, whether through foliage or flower, vie and clash, and ultimately rise up in front of you to demand attention. Here, throughout the seasons, you’ll find giant, elephant-ear-like ligularia with its spiky yellow flowers (Ligularia dentata 'Othello'), tall purple delphiniums (Delphinium exaltatum), coneflowers both white and purple (E. purpurea 'Alba' and E. purpurea), a golden smoke tree (Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit'), masses of yarrow that change color from yellow to burnt orange (Achillea 'Terracotta'), and a variegated maple (Acer Platanoides Drummondii) that fractures the sunlight and sends it shooting off in a thousand directions.
Not to be outdone by these is Crocosmia 'Lucifer', with its spiky, sword-shaped leaves and vaguely tropical scarlet flowers. The crocosmia both grounds and exalts the Garish Garden. The leaves form a steady march of upright soldiers that offer structure and steadfastness throughout the seasons. Early summer brings delicate, red-tinged, feather-like buds waving on tall, stiffly arching stems. Fireworks arrive in mid-July, with the buds exploding into flaming red, trumpet-shaped flowers that float above the foliage and tease onlookers (including hoverflies, butterflies and hummingbirds) to come closer. Finally, if your growing season is long enough (it's not, here) long sprays of yellowish, chestnut-shaped seed heads appear in fall, along the flowering spine, which eventually open to reveal complex, wine-colored seeds.
A member of the Iridaceae family that is native to eastern South Africa, crocosmia (common name, montbretia) can’t help but be flashy, as its siblings include gladioli, lilies, irises and crocuses. C. ‘Lucifer’ is a hybrid developed by the late, great English plantsman, Alan Bloom, at his Bressingham Nurseries in the late 1960s. It is a clump-forming plant that propagates by corms and seeds. New England’s climate limits its spread each year, but in places like California's Pacific Coast and England, it has outworn its welcome by spreading like a weed.
Alternatively, in NE, it can be slow to establish, sometimes taking two to three years. Nurseries recommend digging up the corms like gladioli, or heavily mulching around the plants for winter. Jill does neither: "I used to dig them up but left them one year, and they did fine," she says. She hasn't dug them up since.
To allow C. ‘Lucifer’ its greatest glory (and height, up to four feet tall), plant it in moist but well-drained soil in a sunny location. Let it show off in broad swathes, or ribbons that allow it to wend its way among (and lord its way over) its neighbors. If you have less space, plant it in a clump of at least a dozen corms for greatest visual impact. Folks in warmer climes will want to cut off the seed heads each fall (they’re terrific in dried flower arrangements) to check its spread. Other maintenance includes springtime division every three to four years to discard the old corms and replant the new, though again, this may depend on where you live. After seven years of growing them without crowding, Jill divided hers for the first time last year, in order to donate some to the Mastway School Garden in Lee.
There are many crocosmia hybrids on the market now, some with earlier bloom times (you can have a whole summer of crocosmia blooms!), and others better suited to smaller gardens. C. ‘Fire King’, for example, blooms from early to midsummer, and grows to just two feet. C. ‘Carmine Brilliant’ also reaches two feet tall with reddish-orange blossoms with yellow centers. Both adapt well to planters. If red is just too garish for your garden, try C. 'Citronella' with its bright green leaves and soft yellow luminous flowers.
Dabble and play with your garden’s palette. Let a section of your garden give way to bold colors, textures and shapes. You may be inspired to tap into that “little bit of devil” inside you, and let C ‘Lucifer” out. ~ Lisa Peters O’Brien
DESPITE THE THUNDERSTORMS that graced us last night, 2016 is proving to be a very dry year. Temperatures over the next two weeks are forecasted to park in the high 80s and 90s. In June, Bedrock’s hometown of Lee, New Hampshire, saw 1.3 inches of rain out of an average of 3.9, according to Weather.com. Spring’s seemingly never-ending winds didn’t help. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Southern New England is in a “moderate drought.”
Our gardens are suffering. Seeds haven’t germinated. Annuals, whose root systems haven’t the time to develop fully, suffer. The grass crisps up, especially in shallow soil areas: “Drought is an X-ray,” says Jill. “You can see where the rock ledge on our property is: It’s where the grass dies first.”
On a recent walk through Bedrock, I heard the Zipper tootling along the Sugar Bush, tools clattering and jostling in the back of it. It pulled up to the slope below the Tea House, and out hopped Jill with a beat up old five-gallon bucket. She dipped it in the Petit Pond, and used the liquid to water the mayapples, Podophyllum 'Spotty Dotty' and P. delavayi.
Really? The keeper of 20 acres of gardens spot waters?
“I don’t water in any thorough way,” she explains. “The plants need to tough it out for the most part. After 30 years of soil amendment, the gardens are pretty good at retaining moisture.”
Jill uses manure and compost to amend, the organic matter of which improves soil structure and fertility, and increases its ability to retain moisture. Watering infrastructure --water hookups, pipe access and miles of hose--exists at Bedrock, but it is only used on an as-needed basis. She tries to spot-water newly planted perennials and shrubs and some precious plants.
Dry times aren’t all bad. They offer gardeners a chance to raise a critical brow and assess which of their plants can tolerant drought. These may be ones that you want to use more of in future garden endeavors. Typically, plants that conserve moisture or are frugal with its use are those covered with tiny hairs, or trichomes, which limit evaporation from the leaves (Salvias; Stachys). Other defenses include waxy surfaces, thick, fleshy leaves (Sedums; Baptisias; Euphorbias), and root systems that reach both wide and deep (Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed; Liatris). Many ornamental grasses survive by having thick roots and narrow leaves (Sporobolus heterolepis, or prairie dropseed).
Watch them at different times of day, advises Jill. "Lots of plants wilt in mid-day but by the next morning are perked up, like Cimicifuga [black snakeroot and bugbane], Ligularia and bronze fennel." Not many will die in drought, she says, they just don’t thrive.
Droughts certainly stress plants, some more than others. Walking through parts of Bedrock I see parched grass and a bleached palette. The pine needle floor around the Petit Pond isn’t spongy; it crunches. Does it stress Jill? She smiles and shrugs her shoulders. Such problems used to keep her up at night, but not anymore.
“As you get older, you roll with the punches,” she says. So, too, does her garden.
~ Lisa Peters O'Brien
Look for It:
In June's Out of the Ordinary post, I described Jill’s stand of Pineapple Lily, Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, by the back door of the house with its curly parsley (Petroselinum crispum) ground cover. Wisdom has it that in order to keep the plants bushy, they shouldn’t be allowed to flower, but sometimes it's the plants right under your nose get overlooked with the pruning shears.
“I am loving it,” says Jill. “The umbels are the BEST.”
Along with the Allium ‘Hair’ that's mixed in, we all agree it looks fetching.
GARDENERS ARE A SHARING LOT. Think seed swaps, Master Gardeners (who exist to volunteer their expertise and time), or the crazy-about-daylilies coworker who brings in potted divisions. Community garden members donate their extra produce, families volunteer for school gardens, and the creators of magnificent gardens open their spaces for charity tours--or in the case of Jill and Bob, simply to spread the love their gardens engender. In large part, gardeners are a passionate and committed group eager to share knowledge and resources.
This notion was driven home this past weekend for Bedrock’s owners, who after years of being on the giving end, were the recipients of garden do-good-ism. On Saturday, six nationally-recognized horticulture professionals converged at Bedrock on Jill and Bob’s behalf. They included Lee Buttala, Emmy Award-winning TV producer (Martha Stewart Living and PBS’s Cultivating Life) and current Director of Communications and Marketing for the Berkshire Botanical Garden; Cultural Resources Program Director for Naumkeag in Stockbridge, MA, Cindy Brockway; Executive Director for Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Bill Cullina; Michael Dosmann, the Curator of Living Collections at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum; Joann Vieira, Horticulture Director at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, MA; and Jeff Lynch, Horticulture and Grounds Manager for Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, PA.
Generosity, in the form of a grant from the The Gladys L. Smith Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, made it possible to bring these folks together. They came to look and listen to Jill and Bob, to the Friends of Bedrock Gardens (FBG) board, and to community members. They offered their thoughts, expertise, and precise instructions on how to turn Bedrock into a public garden and cultural center for those interested in horticulture, sculpture, landscape design, and the arts.
The owners were awed. “They shared their weekend at high garden time,” Jill says, appreciating that they left their respective busy gardens in order to see Bedrock at its most bold and beautiful.
Thankfully, the weather cooperated and the days went by seamlessly. Highlights included a tour by Jill, an al fresco dinner behind the barn around Bob’s handmade table, and highly positive comments about the gardens and art: “Everyone had helpful feedback from raising my mower height to ways to market the garden we never would have thought of,” says Jill. “They talked about how important a sense of magic is in this over-processed world.”
There was even some horticultural repartee. “I stumped them on two plants,” smiles Jill. “The [southeast U.S.] native, Croomia pauciflora, in the Swaleway,” and the Asian member of the sunflower family, Atractylodes japonica. “They, in turn, pointed out plants I didn’t even know I had!” (or thought were something else), including a black ash (Fraxinus nigra) and a maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina).
It started with Jill and Bob opening their home and hearts and sharing the bounty of their private acres with visitors for more than a decade now. It continues with the Friends of Bedrock Gardens, folks so touched by the peace, beauty, artistry--and yes, magic--of Bedrock, that they’ve joined Jill and Bob in wanting to see it remain in perpetuity for others to experience. And it will take a community to bring it to fruition. Thanks to the generosity of spirit that gardeners share, they now have a road map. ~ Lisa Peters O'Brien
BEDROCK'S JILL NOONEY HAD A CHANCE to champion her favorite garden tools in this May post, so it is only fitting that her co-conspirator Bob has his say, too. Bob Munger is the behind-the-scenes guy, the inventor, creator and builder of the landscapes in which Jill plays. Transforming 30 acres of neglected farmland--poison ivy and scrub growth--into garden beds and GrassAcre, ponds and parterre, took more than all the manpower he could muster. It required Machines.
First came the beloved “Zipper.” A 50th birthday present for Bob, the speedy little motorized utility cart “opened up the back 40,” says Jill. Suddenly, projects in the far reaches of their sprawling 30 acres seem much less daunting. The Zipper made it easy to transport equipment, tools, supplies, lunch--or to return to the house for the forgotten bug spray. “Every place in the garden is only as far as the Zipper,” quips Bob. By extension, then, every place in the Seacoast (New England?) must be as far as Bob's car, because its license plate reads, "Zipity." (Jill's is Do-Dah.)
After the Zipper came the backhoe tractor with an interchangeable forklift and bucket. Together, it and Bob have cleared fields, created water features, moved tree stumps, made pathways, carved out beds, built hillocks, and much more. “It hasn’t quite replaced the shovel, but it helps a lot,” says Bob. “It’s a much more powerful means to an end.”
Heavy equipment satisfies Bob’s inclination to transform ideas into actuality, and allows him to be involved from beginning to end. It extends to him a certain superhuman power, enabling him to leap tall buildings with a single bound: “Sitting in a cab, the machine becomes an extension of yourself,” he muses. “With the lift of a finger, you can reach out and pick up a rock. You have so much control.”
Secondly, finicky creatures that they are, power tools repeatedly afford Bob the chance to take things apart and put them back together again. “Bob is the fixer,” says Jill. “He loves machines, even when they break.”
Take, for example, the time Jill was mounting an exhibit called “Got You Stumped” for the Boston Flower Show. They borrowed a 40-year-old, 24-inch chainsaw from a neighbor to carve up tree stumps left on the sides of roads by utility crews. The revered chainsaw broke during their watch.
“Bob dismantled it and found that a tiny part had snapped,” marvels Jill. “He just fabricated a replacement piece from a little scrap of metal and installed it.” Problem solved, neighbor happy.
Being Mr. Fix-It is doable with small machines, but as Bob was to find out, it's not so easy with the Big Boys. Fifteen years ago a contractor friend parked a huge old excavator on the property for the weekend and told Bob to go ahead and use it. “In a morning I’d made a road!,” says an incredulous Bob. “I was excavating stumps with the flick of a finger. Sitting up there in the cab, I felt like a giant spider.”
The next time their friend left the excavator, Bob got into trouble. “I was way out in the middle of the woods,” he remembers. “It broke down, and it was very difficult for the truck carrying the repair equipment to reach it. I learned then not to borrow other people’s expensive equipment.”
Does Bob the builder now stick to backhoes, Zippers and the like, whose parts you don't have to be Superman to fix? Why, yes he does. ~ Lisa O'Brien
The tastes of Bedrock's owner Jill Nooney (a.k.a. "collector of plants"), range from the exotic (look for the Japanese emperor oak, Quercus dentata, that's near the Gothic Arbor) to the "garden variety." Take her use of vegetables and herbs, which are tucked liberally among her beds. But whereas parsley and beets are serviceable (and delicious) in my garden, at Bedrock, they turn into playful, graceful, or even exquisite color, texture, and form.
"I'm always on the lookout for foliage that makes a statement, holds up for a long time, and has interesting texture," Jill explains. She regularly uses upright, vase-shaped swiss chard and bushy, wavy-leaved kales in her borders. 'Bright Lights' swiss chard, Beta vulgaris 'Bright Lights,' adds spear-shaped leaves and splashes of the deepest hues, while 'Redbor' and 'Winterbor' kales (Brassica oleracea), offer contrastable texture and muted colors. Though not in the ground this year, another favorite is 'Bull's blood' beet, Beta vulgaris 'Bull's Blood', for its stunning burgundy foliage. These cold-hardy veggies stick around at least through fall: Beets and swiss chard will stand the early, light frosts and even a mild freeze, and kale more so, its flavor sweetening and color intensifying with each successive chill.
When there's time, Jill cuts down these biennials during fall clean-up. When she doesn't get to it, the kale will volunteer clouds of delicate, yellow blooms the following spring, with both plants giving up seed for next year's crop soon thereafter.
Herbs are especially handy for adding textural interest, and when allowed to flower, they attract any number of beneficial insects. Look for the lush ground cover complementing the stand of pineapple lily, Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy', by the back door of the house: It's Petroselinum crispum, or curly parsley. It, too, stays green all season and withstands the cold. In the Garrish Garden you'll find a healthy stand of 'Bronze' fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, mixed with purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. You can harvest and cook with the fennel leaves all summer, and again with the seed come fall. (Learn more about using fennel in the kitchen here.) Parsley and fennel have the added bonus of being host plants to the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly, so be sure to plant enough to share.
This year, Jill is experimenting with dill, Anethum graveolens, and anise, Pimpinella anisum. Or at least that is what she'd planned some quiet evening this winter past. By the time the large packet of anise arrived in the mail, she says, she'd "long forgotten what brain storm she'd had for its use." Inspiration came the other day in Conetown, when she scattered its seed in a large circle in the dirt with an entryway at one end. Will it please the inveterate tinkerer? "We'll see," says Jill. ~Lisa O'Brien
This past weekend was Bedrock Gardens first Open House for 2016, and you can bet there was a fair amount of work done in preparation for it. In case you are wondering how many professional crew members armed with heavy equipment swarmed the gardens in advance, the answer is none. Instead, owner and keeper-of-the-beds Jill Nooney credits much of the work to her two favorite tools, a hand hoe and and old army spade.
On a recent spring volunteer clean-up day, the only time the little hoe left Jill's hand was to poise briefly, hooked by its blade in her back pocket, while she paused to answer questions or made her way along to the next unwitting garden bed.
A hand tool with a metal shaft and a sharp triangular blade, the hoe is literally Jill's right hand for weeding and cultivating, offering the control and precision that you can't get with a long-handled hoe. It can also dig ("in a pinch," says Jill), furrow, and cover seed. Best of all, its sharp edge cuts weed roots right below the soil line. (She keeps hers sharpened on a grinding wheel.)
"I like it because it allows you to extend your arm under shrubs," she says. "I tend to weed fast and furiously, disturbing the top inch or so of soil by scraping it. My habit is to leave the uprooted weeds in the bed--if they are not full of seeds, that is--or I toss them on the grass to dry out. They get finished off with the mower next time around."
In the photo, you can see Jill's less-expensive, right- and left-handed models, as well as a pricier stainless steel one. "All work well, but the head has come off the cheaper ones more than once," says Jill. "Luckily I have a welding shop."
Whatever the little-hoe-that-could can't handle, the dogged, if droll, army shovel can. "It's perfect for small and medium jobs," Jill explains. "I find trowels annoyingly small and do not use them. When kneeling I can plunge the shovel with the blade facing me and pull it toward me to make a sizable hole. I can step on the sides to pry out a fairly deep rooted phlox. Since I garden a lot on my hands and knees, it is perfect."
The right tools don't just make a gardener; used with Jill's expertise, creativity, and wit, they also help make stunning gardens. ~ Lisa O'Brien
Okay, native plant aficionados: What member of the large Annonaceae family of tropical trees is a temperate native of the eastern United States? Hint: It produces a delicate, custard-like, banana-apple-ish fruit that’s almost guaranteed not to be found in commercial markets.
Answer: the indigenous American pawpaw, Asimina triloba, and it is in residence at Bedrock Gardens. The pawpaw is native to the eastern U.S., from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. It's a favorite of kayakers, who pluck its fruit from riverbanks, and rural folk who know where to find its stands. But although it’s been snacked on by mankind for centuries (it was a favorite of both Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark), it’s rarely cultivated.
One reason for this may be that its fruits fall to the ground when ripe, bruise easily, and are highly perishable. (Pick them too early though, and they’ll refuse to ripen.) Another, as discovered by Bedrock’s Jill Nooney, is that pollination is tricky, so yearly fruit set is not guaranteed: “Two years ago I had so much fruit I was giving it away at the fall Open House,” she says. “Last year there were a couple flowers but no fruit.”
Along with the tricky fruit set comes the disagreeably fetid smell of the pawpaw’s blooms. It’s so reminiscent of rotting flesh that the only pollinators it attracts are carnivorous flies and beetles. To increase pollination and ensure fruit production, Jill has decided to employ the old-time, hard-boiled method: that of hanging a decomposing animal carcass in the tree to attract the bluebottle carrion fly. The unwitting subject hanging in Bedrock’s pawpaw is a rather gnarly, road-killed squirrel.
You can find the pawpaw by the Baxis at Bedrock. Its fruits ripen in September. If it proves successful, squirrel’s death will cede exotic (and magically delicious) new life.
Oh, and no worries: We promise to take the little feller down by May’s Open House!
-- Lisa Peters O'Brien
Mother Nature is at her most playful in early Spring, as if the euphoria of regreening the earth is more than she can contain. Her exuberance spills over into impishness: “Pay attention to me or you’ll miss it!,” she says, often producing flights of fancy that last mere days. Here are some highlights from Bedrock Gardens, lest you miss the mischief:
The Syneilesis family of long-stemmed, spiky-leafed perennials from East Asia is one such flash-in-the-pan, pushing up little fuzzy, ghost-like creatures that seemingly float across late April’s lackluster landscape. Only days later, the plants herald the coming season of sun-soaked leisure, turning into little cocktail umbrellas that could adorn the best frozen drinks of summer.
The umbrella plant pictured with the mayapple, above right, can be found in the Petit Pond area of Bedrock Gardens. Spring appearances can be deceiving, however, as the umbrella plant will, by late spring, tower over the large-lobed mayapple, creating a two-foot-high flat-topped canopy, best viewed in all its serrated splendor from the Tea House above.
Spring is the magical snake charmer of the stunning ephemeral, Arisaema ringens (cobra lily), coaxing the stalk and glossy green trifoliate leaves from their protective, dun-colored sheath. The cobra is the Japanese relation to the eastern North American native, A. triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)--the one that, if you were lucky enough to roam the woods as a child, was a delightful treasure when discovered. The cobra is as much as a foot larger though, emerging “much like a foal from a mare,” says Bedrock owner Jill Nooney. “You can’t imagine that all of that leggy plant could come out” of the delicate, dotted leaf base.
Next, from the center of the leaf stalk ascends the cobra head: a purple-and-green or green-and-white striped spathe with a black-purple hood. Most of the cobra lilies observe their predatory postures through May, only to emerge again for a glimpse the following spring. In yet another farcical twist, some Arisaema become hermaphroditic, producing a cluster of red berries in mid- to late-summer which become visible as the spathe withers.
Another woodland sprite featured at Bedrock is Helleborus foetidus, an evergreen perennial whose chartreuse blossoms are actually long-lived. The trick to witnessing it is to be in the garden in late winter through April.
Like it’s cousin, the Lenten Rose (H. orientalis), H. foetidus often pokes through a blanket of snow, it’s bell-shaped flowers trumpeting the coming of spring. Unlike it, its leaves are spectacular: dark green, deeply lobed, and lance-shaped, even overwintering in milder zone 5 winters. Foetidus refers to “fetid,” but we can find no malodorous smell. Blooms can be cut for an early spring floral arrangement, but be sure to leave some faded flower stalks in place till early summer: “H. foetidus self seeds respectfully,” says Jill, ensuring nearly year-round interest for generations to come. -- Lisa Peters O'Brien
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