By Phyllis Galowitz

Everything is still and clean and snow white. Not a bird or an animal or even an insect is in sight. It’s as if there’s an empty sheet for me to plan my new garden on. The forms are in place: the evergreens, the bare trees, the containers waiting to be filled, and the hanging baskets of dead flowers from last season. Just on cue, the catalogues are arriving daily to entice me with their gorgeous photos to plan my garden, when I thought I didn’t want to garden any more. How can I not? It’s just a matter of planting the seeds at the right time, in the right place and voila, a wondrous garden appears! Well, maybe it’s not quite as easy as my dreams make it seem. The soil must be prepared, the hoses gotten ready for watering, new topsoil added to the old in containers, fertilizer and mulch on hand and many trips made to garden shops.

Lenten Roses, Helleborous Oreintalis ( Photo from “Further Along the Garden Path” by Ann Lovejoy)

Time goes by so quickly from one season to the next and I regret not having planted the hellebores that I mean to plant every year. They bloom in very early spring in this area. The best-known hellebore is the Christmas rose, which begins to flower in late fall and then in March or April or maybe even February, depending on conditions. There are many different kinds of hellebores. They require adequate shelter from wind, dappled shade, and neutral soil that is well drained. They are deer resistant, which is, in itself, a reason that I’d like to plant them. It takes patience if you plant them from seed. They can take two or three years to flower, but when they do, you will have an abundant crop at low cost. Growing them from plants can be expensive, averaging about 18 to 20 dollars, although, I see that bareroot plants can be bought on-line for about 5 dollars each. (Sunshine Farms and Gardens)

Hellebores do get black spot, like roses, and should be treated the same way. Cut all

The coffee plant reaches to the ceiling

the affected foliage away and put it in the trash. (Never compost diseased foliage.) Fill a gallon jug with water. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of liquid dish detergent. Shake and spray on new leaf buds. When the new leaves emerge, spray again. It will wash off so you may have to repeat spraying.

My coffee plant is beautiful. It’s up to the ceiling and I’ll either have to cut a hole in the ceiling or cut off the top of the plant. Whatever shall I do! It has 5 beans on it. Last year it had only one. At that rate, in twenty years, I might be able to make one cup of coffee. No. Never. It’s a tropical plant, needing heat and humidity, unlike the dry, cold living room it lives in here, but I’m happy. I don’t drink coffee anyway and it is a wonderful houseplant that likes light but not too much sun and lots of water. When the soil begins to dry, the leaves droop as if they’re crying. When the plant gets watered, the dark green, glossy leaves perk up and it’s happy again and so am I. ~


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