And Then It’s Hellebore Season

By: Richard G Turner Jr

Richard G Turner Jr is the editor emeritus of Pacific Horticulture. After receiving degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from…

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Helleborus 5 hybridus in the NPA Borders at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Photograph by Lynne Harrison

It has been the editor’s dream to focus on this important group of garden plants from the standpoint of a gardener on American soils, particularly those of the West Coast. We are fortunate in having a new masterpiece on the subject, Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide (reviewed on page 12). One of the co-authors, C Colston Burrell, is familiar to gardeners throughout the West Coast through his lectures, garden show appearances, and workshops on garden writing. Cole understands the West Coast better than most nationally recognized garden writers. He joins several other hellebore enthusiasts in providing articles for this special issue featuring the genus Helleborus in gardens of the West Coast.
As this issue was coming together in late summer, Cole was feted at a birthday celebration in Portland, Oregon. The Chorus of the Goddess Flora (and Deadheading Society) rose to the occasion with the following tribute to Cole’s favorite subject.

(sung to the tune of Oklahoma, from the Broadway musical Oklahoma, with apologies to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein)

Hel-le-borus, is the best damned plant to grow for shade.
When it blooms first thing, in early spring,
Then you’ll know your garden has it made!

And when we Smell-eborus,
Then we hold our little noses tight,
But the white ones bloom, amid the gloom
And they shine like pearls in the night!

Oh, we know they have nec-taries fat,
And the sepals are broad, round, and flat!
But when we say Pee-ewe!
We’re only saying,
You really stink, Helleborus!
Helleborus, Oh Hell-e-b-o-r-u-s,
Helleborus! Oh hell!

Linda Beutler, head lyricist; Steve Peter, choir director; Doug McCleary, arranger and accompanist. Vocalists: Connie Anderson, Jolly Butler, Linda Carson, Darcy Daniels, Cagney Davis, Susan Fries, Nancy Goldman, Lucy Hardiman, Carolyn Lane, Susan LaTourette, Deborah Meyers, Liz Stepp.