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E-Newsletter: February 2009
Phoenix Perennials E-Newsletter
from Phoenix Perennials!
Hellebores = Hope
What a winter! Is it over yet? It might not be but let's hope. Hope is the general theme for this e-newsletter and I think for February in general. As I pass by my garden beds the hellebores are up four, six, eight inches now and in bud. Winter must be coming to an end and spring must be right around the corner. A hellebore would never lie!
To provide all of you with hope our annual special opening weekend The Hellebore Hurrah! is just around the corner. We are so proud of this weekend, of the plants and of its popularity. If you haven't been before, come see what a few thousand hellebores can do to lift your spirits. If you have been before you know exactly what to expect - only it's going to be better this year than ever. Really. Mark your calendars, fellow gardeners, for the gardening event of the season!
In this issue you'll find information on the Hellebore Hurrah!, a new downloadable catalogue filled with descriptions and images of all of our hellebores, and an article on selecting hellebores.
You will also find information on my speaking engagements, a call for applications for our Charity Shopping Weekends, and information on the upcoming UBC Botanical Garden Collectors' Plant Auction.
See you at the Hellebore Hurrah!
Gary and the Phoenicians
PS. Watch for our new workshop offerings in the next e-newsletter in early March!
In this Issue
1. The Hellebore Hurrah!: Celebrating early spring and all things Hellebore
2. A Few Notes on Selecting Hellebores
3. New Phoenix Perennials Collectible T-Shirt for 2009
4. Gary's Speaking Engagements for February
5. Charity Shopping Weekends: Call for Applications
6. UBC Botanical Garden Collectors' Plant Auction
Celebrating early spring and all
February 27th, 28th and March 1st, 2009
yourselves for one of the largest
and most exciting selections of hellebores ever offered
in North America!
year we bring you almost 80 different species, cultivars and strains of hellebores sourced from some of the best breeders in North America and around the world. Some of the most exciting plants will come from the reigning queen of the hellebore, Marietta
O'Byrne. We also bring you choice plants
from three other hellebore specialists, Pine Knot
Farms, Charles Price breeder and garden designer of Seattle Washington, and Heronswood Nursery. For the extra sophisticated among you we
will also offer a selection of rare and uncommon
species hellebores as young plants. Mark your calendars!
You won't want to miss this weekend!
The Hellebore Hurrah! Catalogue 2009
New this year we bring you a full list complete with colour images and descriptions of the hellebores on offer at this year's Hellebore Hurrah!
The catalogue is in pdf format and is 4 megabytes in size. Click on the link to download the file and save it on your computer. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it which you can download for free from the Adobe Site. Then view the catalogue on your computer or print it off for detailed study and pre-shopping.
Mark your calendars! And tell all your friends.
Friends don't let friends miss the Hellebore Hurrah!
Make It?: If you are unable to attend the
Hellebore Hurrah! there will certainly be more hellebores
available afterwards. If you would like to make sure
you acquire a desired plant(s) you can call the nursery
between February 16th and February 26th and give
us your order, your credit card information and your
sworn affidavit that you really will not be able
to make it that weekend. We will select a nice specimen(s)
for you and hold it until you can pick it up.
Because the first day of the Hurrah! is a Friday and many people have to work we will hold back a quantity of the more rare plants for Saturday so that they will be available on both Friday and Saturday.
Few Notes on Selecting Hellebores
every hellebore offered has been derived from seed
strains since hellebores bulk up slowly and resent
being divided. Seed strains are carefully bred
lines that are maintained over time to assure as
much uniformity as possible in selected characterisitics
which include flower
and foliage colour, flower size, flower
set, degree of doubling, petal shape, petal spotting
and picoteeing (having a darker edge), colour of
the nectaries, habit, vigour,
For instance, the Heronswood Slate strain was bred
to maintain deep purple flowers with a satiny sheen,
foliage with similar dark tones and great vigour.
Less specific in nature, the Royal Heritage strain
is a quite varied strain bred to offer a wide range
of colours with flowers that are more outward (rather
than downward) facing.
strains have been bred with different qualities
of genetic material as starting points and differing
levels of attention and skill from their breeders.
Consequently, not all strains are created equal.
The Heronswood Hellebores, for instance, are bred
to extremely high standards while the Royal Heritage
strain is bred to more average standards. Compare
the three gallon Heronswood singles to the three
gallon Royal Heritage plants at the Hellebore Hurrah!
and you will quickly understand the difference.
The Royal Heritage plants are good quality and
offer value for the money but the Heronswood plants
breeders' efforts, hellebores are complicated. They
are hybrids of numerous wild species so their genetics,
and hence their breeding, are difficult to understand.
Consequently, and magically, no two hellebores derived
from a seed strain are the same. When selecting from
a strain you should compare the plants and their
flowers to find the individual(s) that you most love!
They are all different and all have their own particular
charms. However, do remember that if you purchase
a plant that is not in flower it is impossible to
know exactly what you will get!
recently, diligent labs have finally discovered how
to micropropagate or tissue culture hellebores. The
resulting plants are all identical. The very best
plants from the best breeders are now being selected
for larger scale production. This means that special
plants that never would have left the breeders' or
their close friends' private gardens are now becoming
available to the general public. Even if these cultivars
are not in flower you will know exactly what the
blooms will look like when your plant reaches maturity.
Tissue cultured cultivars take away a bit of the
magic of finding your very own gem but they will
all be outstanding plants.
differentiate between hellebores derived from these
two different methods of propagation we use the
correct botanical formatting when possible to differentiate
between these two groups of hellebores. In the case
of the seed strains we have also added the word "strain"
to each plant. For instance,
the seed strains are written as Helleborus Mrs. Betty
Ranicar Strain. Cultivars produced through tissue
cultivar will have their names surrounded by single
quotes as in Helleborus 'Kingston Cardinal'.
Singles, Doubles and Anemone Centres
superficially the single hellebore flower
looks like a normal flower, it's actually a bit
different. What we think of as the five hellebore
petals -- the colourful white, pink, red, purple,
near-black or yellow structures that get us most
excited about these plants -- are actually the
sepals, which on most other plants are green and
protect the petals. The petals of hellebores are
actually very small green, yellow, burgundy or
black structures that form a ring around the
stamens. In this case they are called nectaries
and are important for attracting pollinating insects.
Note the ring of green nectaries in the image on
is fortuitous for us as gardeners that
the colourful part of the hellebore flower is the
sepal. If you think about flowers in general, the
petals usually have a short lifespan while the
sepals can last for months and sometimes are even
present on the fruits, as with roses and rose hips.
The long-lived sepals of hellebores are what gives
us the months of colour that we so appreciate.
hellebore flowers occur when the nectaries become
and take on the same colour as the sepals (unlike
in most other double flowers where the stamens
and pistils become petaloid and the plant is infertile).
The form of the double hellebore flower usually
consists of the five sepals which cup a number
of smaller, usually pointed and more numerous petals.
Anemone centred flowers occur when the nectaries
become partially petaloid, take on the colour of
the sepals and surround the stamens like a ruffly
ring of baby petals as in the picture at right.
petalled plants are the most common since this is
the natural form of the hellebore flower. Doubles
seem to be the second most common and anemone-centred
flowers the most rare. Perhaps this is due to the
greater interest in double flowers, though crosses
of anemone-centred plants tend to produce a lower
percentage of anemone-centred offspring than similar
crosses with double flowered plants that produce
double flowered offspring. Let's just say that to
have a double flowered hellebore is rare and special.
To have an anemone centred plant is even more uncommon.
Look for them at the Hellebore Hurrah! There are
some mixed in here and there.
Appropriate and fair pricing is very important
to us at Phoenix Perennials. Unfortunately, plant
lust doesn't always come cheap. We have attempted to
source the highest quality hellebores available
from some of the best breeders in the world.
These plants should exhibit great vigour, larger
flowers, and bold colours. However, owing to
their lofty parentage, high and labour intensive
standards of breeding, and the necessity of importing
these hellebores from far away places, and the
length of time -- often a number of years --
to bring hellebores into bloom, their prices
are higher than the average. Do keep in mind that hellebores are a great investment for your garden. They provide colour in the garden for two to three months when you most need it and they will be with you for decades as they are a really long-lived perennial.
an example of pricing, while a regular (single) hellebore
is usually priced around $15, the Heronswood single
hellebores will be priced in the mid thirties.
Doubles are extremely rare and always expensive.
The Heronswood doubles will be priced in the mid
to high forties for a one gallon pot. We trust that
when you see them at the nursery and grow them in
your gardens you'll understand the difference between
regular hellebores and these superb horticultural
treasures. That being said, there are still treasures
to be found even in the more modestly priced strains.
Keep your eyes open and, like a busy bee, visit every
New Phoenix Perennials Collectible T-Shirt
"I can only have one husband
but as many flowers as I want!"
Welcome to our second offering of Phoenix Wear!
This high quality tee is black with embroidered text in light purple. They will cost a reasonable $17.99. They are great for gardening, plant shopping, going to garden group meetings, and for reminding your spouse about your rights!
Our t-shirts will be arriving at the nursery in time for the Hellebore Hurrah! They will be available in various sizes S, M, L, XL.
Also available, our 2008 t-shirt: There are worse addictions than plants!
Upcoming Speaking Engagements
by Phoenix Perennials Owner Gary Lewis
These talks are open to the public. There may be an entrance fee to these events and garden group meetings. It would be great to see you there!
Weird and Wonderful
Plants of the World: Botanically Intriguing
Options for Your Garden
Gary Lewis, owner of Phoenix Perennials, for a whirlwind
trip around the world to discover a multitude of weird
and wonderful plants to add botanical intrigue to your
garden. In this colourful, image-rich and dynamic Power
Point presentation you'll discover amazing plants from
every continent (except Antarctica!) including Cobra
Lilies from Asia, acacias and bottlebrushes from Australia,
broadleaf pokers from South Africa, orchids from North
America and much more.
Northest Flower & Garden Show
Wednesday February 18th, 5pm, Hood Room
the Summer Doldrums:
Great Plants for High Summer and Early
your garden look a little tired through the summer
months? Here's a whole raft of plants to get your
summer garden sizzling with colour. Gary Lewis will
present a stunning, image-rich Power Point presentation
to illustrate the many options for the high summer
Northest Flower & Garden Show
Thursday February 19th, 5pm, Hood Room
||Weird and Wonderful
Plants of the World: Botanically Intriguing
Options for Your Garden
[See description above.]
BC Home and Garden Show
BC Place Stadium Vancouver
Saturday, Feb. 20th, 4pm
Sunday Feb. 21st,
Among Kangaroo Paws and Grass Trees:
The incredible spring flora of Western Australia *New Talk for 2009!*
Join Gary for a trip Down Under to explore an out of this world flora you have likely never even dreamed of – a world of Banksias and featherflowers, Donkey orchids and Spider orchids, eucalypts and myrtles and, of course, kangaroo paws and grass trees. In this talk you’ll see wonderful photography from his recent trip as well as learn about why this area of the world is considered a biodiversity “hot spot.”
Richmond Garden Club
Minoru Pavilion Richmond
Wednesday Feb. 25th, 7:45pm
Shopping Weekends 2009
Call for Applications
We are currently accepting applications from charitable
organizations who would be interested in participating
in our Charity Shopping Weekends program.
Weekends are a way for Phoenix Perennials to give back
to the community while helping to introduce gardeners
to our nursery. Each month one charity will be selected
to participate in a Weekend. During that Saturday and
Sunday 25% of each purchase made by a customer who tells
us they are there for that charity's Weekend will be
donated to the charity. In the last four years we have raised over $5000 for 14 different local charities.
that can benefit most from a Charity Shopping Weekend
is one with a base of supporters that can be easily
(and cheaply) contacted and mobilized.
If you are
involved with or know of a charity that is looking for
fundraising opportunities, please forward this information
to them and have them contact us if they are interested
at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 604-270-4133. We will
then forward them an application form.
charity will be announced each month in the E-Newsletter.
If you would like to support that charity (or are looking
for ways to justify your hortaholic tendencies), consider
doing some shopping on the Charity Shopping Weekends.
The UBC Botanical Garden
Collectors' Plant Auction 2009
April 23rd, 2009
Phoenix Perennials is proud to again be a corporate sponsor of this exciting and worthwhile fundraising event for the garden. The organizers will have a booth set up at the Hellebore Hurrah! weekend for those interested in the event.
Over four hundred exciting trees, shrubs, perennials and alpines are offered in silent and live auctions throughout the evening. This is a unique opportunity to acquire rare and specimen plants, some of which grow in UBC Botanical Garden. Many individual plant collectors, nurseries and other botanical gardens are generously supporting this event through donations of choice and difficult-to-obtain plants. In addition to these gorgeous plants, an array of fabulous live and silent auction merchandise and services for all the gala goers to bid on will be available.
Not just an auction, this is a gala evening of food, wine and music, combined with a unique opportunity to acquire rare plants and to support the garden and its research.
While enjoying live entertainment and a delicious hot and cold appetizer buffet, gardeners can shop for all their new garden “upgrades” while supporting the Botanical Garden. Net proceeds from the 2009 evening will support the completion of the Garry Oak Meadow and Woodland (Phase 1) This project requires significant funds to complete and maintain. The success of this event is important for both the overall development of the garden and its research.
For more information: http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/events/auction.php
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Word of mouth has been such an important part of our success and growth at Phoenix Perennials. Thank you to everyone who has told their friends about us and thank you in advance for continuing to introduce new people to our nursery! We couldn't do it without your kind patronage and support!
you have any other questions please contact us at email@example.com.
Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.
One of the largest and most exciting selections of perennials
in the Lower Mainland.
Specializing in distinct perennials, fragrant shrubs,
hardy subtropicals and the botanically intriguing.3380
No. 6 Road, Richmond (Between Bridgeport and Cambie)
visit our web page for information on the nursery, driving
directions and a map.
We are near the south end of the Knight Street Bridge
and very easy to get to from all of the surrounding
municipalities and beyond.
Days a Week 10am-5pm
February 27th through November 1st, 2009
Copyright Phoenix Perennials and Specialty Plants Ltd.
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