Hail the Hellebore
Photos by Aaron Dougherty
This year’s mild winter has our perennial garden slightly confused (again). While daffodils have put on their usual early show to brighten the drab landscape, some of our salvia plants are in full bloom. Meanwhile, the petite white flowers of our blackfoot daisy are playing peekaboo with the layers of leaf mulch in the rock garden. But it’s the hellebores that make us happy. Also known as Lenten roses (bloom time typically occurs during the six-week period leading up to Easter), hardy hellebores are a welcome sight this time of year with their dark green leaves and ruffled flowers. We trim away freeze damage on the greenery and delight in the discovery that they’ve reseeded and spread. Other than planting these low-growing perennials in light shade and crossing our fingers that they don’t drown in heavy spring rains, hellebores are low maintenance. They love rich compost, tolerate drought quite well, and the attractive flowers last for weeks. Hellebores are only available at the nurseries for a short while, and quart pots can be pricey. But they’re worth it. Plant them now for a brighter winter garden next year. — Meda Kessler
Bari J. Ackerman’s Critter Pillows are part of her expansive botanical-inspired collection of everything from wallpaper to rugs. These weather-resistant designs, especially this adorable Lab, are too cute to leave out for the squirrels to munch on; we suggest using them in a sunroom or on a protected porch. $55. Into the Garden, 4600 Dexter Ave., Fort Worth, 817-336-4686, intothegardenoutdoor.com.
Eat what you grow
We hated missing Aaron Bertelsen’s class at Central Market’s cooking school in Fort Worth last month, but at least we snagged a book. Bertelsen has the enviable title of internationally acclaimed vegetable gardener, plus he’s also an author. His newly published Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots (Phaidon, $39.95) embraces Bertelsen’s love of growing what he eats. The New Zealand native currently lives in England and works at the Great Dixter, the family home of fellow gardener/writer Christopher Lloyd. A historic landmark, the house and garden draw horticulturists from around the world. Bertelsen is a big proponent of container gardening, especially in small spaces, and offers useful information on how to grow everything from root vegetables to herbs including the kind of pots to use. He also includes 50-plus recipes for seasonal dishes beautifully photographed for the book. Find it wherever you shop for books or at phaidon.com.