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Updated Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 07:01 AM

New Helleborus in heavenly colors

By Ciscoe Morris
Special to The Seattle Times

In the Garden

Exciting new varieties of Helleborus, featuring colorful foliage as well as showy, long-lasting flowers, are becoming available at local nurseries.

A compact variety with blue-gray leaves to look for is H. x nigercors “Ice Breaker Pico.” In mid-January, pink buds open to large, ivory flowers that age to a light green.

Blooming in mid-February, the slightly mottled leaves and stems of H. x ballardiae “Merlin” are such an attractive dark purple-green, it would be worth growing just for the foliage. It makes the perfect foil for the upright pink flowers that mature to a dark, rich cranberry.

If you prefer a Hellebore with a more luminous glow, H. x sternii “Silver Dollar” will light up your winter garden with silver-evergreen, hollylike leaves and white blooms brushed with pink and green.

The big hit of the season, however, has to be the first Hellebore ever developed with truly variegated leaves. The serrated, evergreen mottled green-and-white leaves of H. argutifolius “HGC Snow Fever” are stunning, especially when the new growth emerges with overtones of pink and purple. The creamy, whitish-green flowers appear in January and February.

Hellebores will generally thrive if planted in bright shade in rich, humus-y soil. Place these colorful Hellebores near a walkway so visitors (and you) can appreciate the magnificent foliage and flowers.

Impress your sweetie

Psst, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Do you need a quick and easy gift idea? Visit www.gardenshow.com or call 206-325-4510 for info about tickets to the annual Opening Night Party at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show on Feb. 19.

In keeping with this year’s theme, “The Silver Screen Takes Root: Gardens Go Hollywood,” the opening-night party, which benefits the Arboretum Foundation, will feature the glamour and excitement of a Hollywood premiere.

Experience the glitter of Tinseltown as you walk up the red carpet. Make sure to pose for paparazzi while you gossip with your favorite garden celebrities. Then bid on the silent auction while enjoying food, wine and live music.

Amid all the fun, don’t forget to take a romantic stroll among the display gardens to see if you can find the cinematic inspiration in each. If you want to make this evening a real blockbuster for your Valentine, pay extra for patron or benefactor-level tickets. You’ll enjoy free parking, early admission, a buffet dinner and a tour of the show gardens led by designer and author Billy Goodnick of Fine Gardening magazine.

With a gift like this, you’ll have “star power” galore in your Valentine’s eyes! Tickets are $75-$100 for general admission; $250-$500 for patron and benefactor level, respectively.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

Gardening Events

Ciscoe’s Picks

Fruit Tree Pruning:10 a.m.-noon Sunday, learn the basics of pruning apple, cherry, plum and pear trees. Magnuson Park, Building 406, 7700 Sandpoint Way N.E., Seattle; $5-$20 (206-783-9813 or www.plantamnesty.org).

Small Conifers for Small Gardens: Northwest Horticultural Society presents talk by Robert Fincham. 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 N.E. 41st St., Seattle; $5-$10 (206-780-8172 or www.northwesthort.org).


Mary Flewelling Morris
An example of Helleborus argutifolius ‘HGC Snow Fever.’




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