Matchmaking with Hellebores


Whether you’re already addicted to growing hellebores or are considering them for the first time, you don’t want to miss:

Linden Hill’s 15th Annual Hellebore Festival on April 1 and 2  2017 (10am to 4pm)

We’ll have a glorious abundance of blooming-size plants with wide selection of flower forms, colors, and markings, so you’re sure to find something special.

Match Making with Hellebores

When choosing beautiful new hellebores for your garden, don’t forget to think about companion plants too. Well-chosen partners can enhance the seasonal bloom show, complementing or contrasting with the hellebores’ flower colors.


Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with Italian arum (Arum italicum ‘Pictum’) and ‘Chameleon’ euphorbia (Euphorbia dulcis)

Pairing hellebores with foliage companions is one easy and dependable way to go. Take advantage of perennial partners with evergreen leaves, such as heucheras and ‘Evergold’ sedge (Carex oshimensis), for color you can count on no matter what the weather does. Surrounding your hellebores with low-growing groundcovers, such as black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’), European wild ginger (Asarum europaeum), or moss serves a practical purpose too: They keep soil from splashing onto hellebore blooms during heavy spring rains.

Perennial companions that offer showy new growth, such as the bright yellow blades of golden wood millet (Milium effusum ‘Aureum’) or the pink-blushed leaves of a variegated creeping Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), also offer exciting possibilities for subtle or dramatic color combinations.

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with ‘Touch of Class’ creeping Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans)


Hellebores bloom for such a long period that they can pair with a variety of flowering partners through their yearly show. To complement the first blooms of Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) and bearsfoot hellebore (H. foetidus), pair them with early risers such as snowdrops (Galanthus), winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), and Crocus tommasinianus. By the time the earliest hybrid Lenten roses (H. x. hybridus) open, snowdrops are usually still in bloom, joined by reticulated iris (Iris reticulata), glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and hybrid crocuses.

Bearsfoot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) with glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae) and Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)


As the season progresses, so do the possible flowering partners for hellebores. Take advantage of other spring bulbs, such as squills (Scilla and Puschkinia), grape hyacinths (Muscari), checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris), and early daffodils like ‘February Gold’ and ‘Tete-a-Tete’.

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris)


By mid-spring, options increase for flowering perennial companions that complement hellebores of all sorts. Consider primrose species and hybrids, for example, and epimediums too, for a wide range of colors. Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla), forget-me-nots (Myosotis), lungworts (Pulmonaria), and early phlox (like Phlox divaricata and P. stolonifera) are beautiful for blues and whites; many of these offer pink options as well.

Hybrid hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus) with red epimedium (Epimedium x rubrum)


Don’t forget about pansies and violas, either. They come in a rainbow of hues—and black and white and bicolors, too—so you can experiment with interesting new combinations each spring.

We’ll have lots of these and other beautiful bloomers at our 15th Annual Hellebore Festival, so plan on joining us next weekend and stock up on some much-needed spring color.

Also happening on Saturday only will be Springfair. Located in the barn and featuring local vendors offering seasonal gifts and food treats.

Cap off your visit with a walk through our gardens, particularly the Metasequoia Allee , to get even more ideas for charming hellebore companions.



Go for the Gold


‘Rozanne’ geranium weaving through ‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea in the Long Border

Of all the many wonderful colors you can find in foliage, golden leaves are among the most eye-catching. They’re particularly bright and fresh-looking in spring, and many continue to add interest to beds and borders throughout the growing season as well. Golden leaves combine comfortably with pretty much any flower color, too. They’re outstanding with “blurples” (blues and purples)–one of Jerry’s signature color pairings–and crisp-looking with whites and pinks. Golden foliage is also excellent for creating dramatic combinations with black- or burgundy-leaved partners.


‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea between ‘Molly Bush’ heuchera and ‘Miss Kim’ lilac right outside the office at Linden Hill

The trick to growing gorgeous golden foliage is giving it the right site. Some of these plants produce their best leaf color in full sun; otherwise, they may turn a somewhat sickly-looking yellowish green. A few excellent choices for full sun include perennial ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and shrubby ‘Golden Spirit’ smokebush (Cotinus coggygria), ‘Lemony Lace’ elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), and ‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea (Spiraea thunbergii).


It’s hard to think of a plant that lacy-leaved ‘Isla Gold’ tansy doesn’t look great with. You can see it in many combinations in our Formal Garden.


‘Golden Spirit’ smokebush positively glows against a dark background. Jerry created this outstanding color echo by taking one of the leaves to a local hardware store and getting a perfect paint match.


We have ‘Mellow Yellow’ spirea growing in many of our beds and borders. Besides the sunny yellow leaf color, it’s valuable for its fragrant spring flowers, fine foliage texture, and adaptable nature. Pruning is super-simple, too: Just give it a hard trim every few years in spring if it starts to outgrow its space, or if you want to encourage bushy new growth.


Mock orange is wonderful for fragrance in bloom, but the ordinary green form isn’t very interesting any other time. When you grow the golden-leaved selection, you’ll enjoy it all through the growing season. We have it growing in our Formal Garden, underplanted with ‘Joanna Reed’ catmint.

Some other golden plants like plenty of sun, but too much strong sun can lead to a bit of leaf bleaching or browning, particularly if the soil dries out. Two that tend to look best with morning sun but some afternoon shade include ‘Golden Jubilee’ anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and golden mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’).


The foliage of ‘Golden Jubilee’ anise hyssop  is particularly brilliant in spring. Later on, the branching stems are tipped with spikes of purple-blue flowers. You can see it growing in our Formal Garden.

Many gold-leaved plants positively glow in partial to full shade, bringing the impression of dappled sunlight into shaded beds. A few you can see in the gardens here at Linden Hill include ‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia racemosa), ‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), ‘All Gold’ Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra), and ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta.


‘Sun King’ aralia forms sizeable clumps of bright yellow foliage and is reportedly deer-resistant. This one grows in our Cottage Garden, under the magnolia right behind the Linden Hill office and next to the cottage.


‘Gold Heart’ bleeding heart is beautiful in bloom and just as pretty afterward, thanks to its bright yellow foliage. We have it growing in many places, including our Formal Garden and Metasequoia Allee.


This charming combination from one of our Office Borders features ‘All Gold’ Hakone grass with creeping mazus (Mazus reptans), ‘Ultramarine’ forget-me-not, and a lavender-purple viola.


Over time, ‘Sum and Substance’ hosta can reach shrub-size proportions. This well-established clump in one of our Office Borders easily holds its own with ‘Unique’ panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). There are many other gorgeous golden hostas that fit well into smaller gardens too.

Jerry is always on the lookout for new golden gems for our customers and landscape clients, and he has some exciting offerings on order for the upcoming growing season. Come to visit and check them out in our nursery and gardens this year; we’ll be open for the season starting on April 1, 2017 when we host our 15th annual Hellebore Festival Weekend.

We look forward to seeing you!


Blooms and Berries for Fall


Golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) with New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

September is finally here and after the rough summer we’ve had, some fresh color in the garden is a welcome sight. Sure, there are autumn standards for beds and borders–asters, goldenrods, and the like–but if you want to set your garden apart, it’s worth hunting for some of the lesser known gems. Read on to discover two of our favorites for color, texture, and yes, even deer resistance!

Golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia) is a standout for late-season interest for beds and borders. Typically reaching 5 to 6 feet in bloom, it starts flowering around mid-August and is stunning through September, at least. Earlier in the growing season, you hardly notice its wide rosette of lobed green leaves, but once it begins flowering, it never fails to grab attention.


Golden lace with cobalt-blue ‘Black and Bloom’ anise sage (Salvia guaranitica), soft purple Russian sage (Perovskia), and white woodland tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) in the Formal Garden at Linden Hill

The slender but sturdy stems branch toward the top, carrying many tiny blooms in a bright lemon yellow color that makes a pleasing change from the usual brassy yellows of other fall bloomers.


Golden lace up close

Golden lace combines easily with a wide range of other bloom colors and is a wonderful partner for shrub and tree partners that have showy fall foliage.


Golden lace against ‘Grace’ smokebush (Cotinus)

Golden lace also produces colorful fall foliage of its own, usually in brilliant reds but shades of orange and deep red to maroon are also possible. That’s a lot of impact from one perennial! Golden lace is easy to grow but not easy to find, so make a note to check with us for plants next spring. (They settle in best if you move them fairly early in the growing season.) Golden lace thrives in rich, moist soil but can adapt to average garden conditions too, in full sun to light shade.


Purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma)

Beautyberries (Callicarpa) are another excellent addition for an autumn spectacle. The clustered fruits of these deciduous shrubs are so intensely purple that they hardly look real! Purple beautyberry (C. dichotoma) flowers on new growth, with clusters of purplish pink flowers in early to midsummer. Cutting it back to about 6 inches in early spring each year will produce a densely branched, 3- to 4-foot-tall and -wide mound that fits easily into a bed, border, or foundation planting.


Purple beautyberry in a border

The fruits start to color up along the gently arching stems in September, while the leaves are still green. As the weather gets cooler, the leaves take on a greenish yellow to light yellow hue that adds to the spectacle.


Purple beautyberry in October

The leaves eventually drop, but the berries remain for an additional month or two, at least, extending the show through late fall into winter.


Purple beautyberry in November

We currently have some beautiful containerized plants of the popular ‘Early Amethyst’, which tends to color up a bit earlier in the season than other selections. Plant them now in a site with full sun to light shade and average, well-drained soil, and you’ll enjoy their multi season interest for years to come. This is one of the best times of year to visit us and enjoy the seasonal gardens at Linden Hill.