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Hellebore Blooms in the Winter Garden

Now is the time to go out in your yard and prune back the leaves of your Hellebores, commonly called Lenten Rose. They are usually a bit shabby after the colder part of the winter. This takes away from those new blossoms that are blooming or budding out. Just be careful when pruning that you do not damage those blooms.

The result will be a bouquet of solid color. Don’t worry, fresh new leaves will soon be unfurling.

Do not cut back the hellebore foetidus as their blooms form toward the end of the leafy stalk.

This evergreen perennial foetidus ‘Wester Flisk’ is ready to go home with you and give you year-long texture as well as late winter clusters of blooms.







Also available in the green house are hellebores from the Gold Collection.

‘Jacob’ has very visual white flowers as they are outward facing, unlike older varieties which look down. Notice the red stems, an attractive variation from the standard.
variegated leaves of 'Snow Fever' hellebore






‘Snow Fever’ with a smaller, cupped blossom, has variegated leaves that are showy in the shade garden.





Hellebores, drought and deer resistant, are a wonderful addition to any shade garden.


Edgeworthia- A Plant for all Seasons

The attraction of shrubs with winter interest is usually subtle. Not so with Edgeworthia, sometimes called a Chinese Paperbush.

Let's start with the bark. The reddish color and texture tempts you reach out and touch. The round shape of the multi-stemmed bush concentrates the color of the branches. Edgeworthia chrysantha grows up to 5-6 feet but can be kept smaller with pruning after bloom.

The blue-green leaves are tropical-like with their simple fullness. They turn yellow before they drop to reveal the already forming flower buds.

The flowers are the best part of edgeworthia. The buds are white and covered with light silky hairs. They form on the tips of the branches and when the sun shines on them, they seem to glow. These buds continue to swell late fall through early winter. Because the flowers are in clusters, the bud almost looks like a single white flower but surprise comes mid winter. If you have been ignoring your shrub, you won't now. The yellow and cream blossoms open wide and seem to cover the entire bush. You can't miss their wonderful fragrance.

Easily cared for in moist, well drained soil and in full or part sun, edgeworthia will certainly be the talk of your winter garden!

Cozy up for the winter

It’s winter and your opportunity to curl up in your favorite chair and finally take the time to pore over your garden magazines.  Clip out any ideas or plants that catch your interest. Create a garden journal, a pocket folder or even better, load up your smart phone to have easy access to your favorites and inspiraton.


If you have a view from your easy chair out to the yard, make note of the structure of your garden. Are there bare spots? (Oh boy, the plant-fanatics are rejoicing!) Make a note to choose and plant something to feature there. Maybe there might be something that would be better subtracted or moved to a new spot.

If you are the type that cannot sit inside on a fine winter's day, walk in your garden and get a few things done:

If you have saved seeds, it’s a good time to check that they are properly stored. Mice and insects will seek out fat pumpkin seeds stored in a shed or garage.

Assorted greeneryGather up any blowdown or windfall,  Choose some with choice structure to make an arrangement of mossy branch, curly willow, greens or berries.

Make note of pruning that will need to be done. Do not prune if temperatures are at or below  freezing! Branches are too brittle then.

Water any plants that are under the eaves of your house.  Just remember to drain the hose after watering and re-place the freeze-protection cover on your hose bib. Remember too that winds and below freezing temperature are very drying---so supplement with watering if we have a rainless spell.

Launch a search and destroy mission against slug eggs. They appear as white “pearls” under rocks and wood.

Columnar junipers, arborvitae and cypress  will bend and possibly break under the weight of snow. Remove all fallen leaves that may have caught up in the branches that would catch snow. Tie up the top portions to keep them from opening up under the weight of ice or snow. At the nursery we use large rubber bands, but simple twine will work.

At Farmington Gardens, we hope everyone will have a spectacular gardening season.  

Winterizing Your Tools

Garden tools and gardeners benefit greatly from well kept tools.

Dull and dirty tools can be harmful to the plants, spread disease, damage tissue, and are harder to use. Regular cleaning and sharpening of all your gardening tools is ideal. At the very least, they should go through a nice overhaul before they are put away for the winter.

Photo from Michigan Gardener

Cleaning: Here is one option to try. Disassemble (if possible) and soak hand tools that are mildly soiled in strong brewed black tea until the tea has cooled. This will allow rust and debris to be wiped off easily. Tools that are more rust or sap laden may need extra scrubbing with a steel wool, sand paper, or a fine chisel before soaking in tea.

With tools that are used in the soil, such as shovels, it is wise to remove all the soil debris. A forceful stream of water could do the tric. For those of us in the PNW where the soil tends to be more on the clay side and stick, a wire brush or blunt object is sometimes required. Soil tools that have a large amount of rust, sand paper or steel wool may be required for a deeper clean.

Follow cleaning of any tool with a thin coat of motor oil. This increases resistance to rust while storing. Remember to oil nut and bolt areas as well. If your tools have wooden handles, wipe them with linseed oil to help keep moisture out and increase lifespan.

*Anytime of the year when pruning diseased plant material or working in diseased soil, remember to wash the tool thoroughly after use, either with alcohol or hot water and soap to prevent spread of disease.

Sharpening: Click here for more in-depth information provided by  Oregon State University Extension Services on sharpening a variety of gardening tools.