Every now and again, we gardeners spot a plant we really want. Not having the space or the conditions it deserves doesn’t always help reduce the cravings, but when we’re lucky enough to have the perfect spot, we’re almost powerless to resist.
If the plant is a mass propagated, named cultivar (and we know the variety name and can find a supplier) there’s something we can do about it, when it’s not, it’s more tricky. I’ve recently been bewitched by a hellebore I saw in woodland at the Ness Botanic Garden that I fear falls into the latter category.
The plant was tall, elegant and vigorous, standing head and shoulders above the other hybrids around it.
At first sight, the abundant, fully double flowers were almost garish by hellebore standards: a vibrant shade of pink overlaid on a pearly pink background. I lifted a few of the flowers so I could admire them, noting the central scatterings of freckles. The edges of the pointed petals had a beautiful soft picotee effect and the whole flower, a ruffled, lacy look. I rapidly readjusted my expectations for these usually demure plants, and fell head over heels for this bold specimen.
The flowers seemed quite variable in colour, so I doubt it’s a named cultivar: more likely a one-off seedling as so many hellebores are. It wasn’t identified, so far as I could see. If I’m wrong, and it is commercially available, I’d love to know the name. Like all hellebore cultivars, it won’t come true from seed.
As I was driving home, I started wondering how often plantspeople ask gardens if they are willing to sell them a bit of a plant they really, really like, and how often they say yes. I’m too law abiding and socially responsible to go and dig a bit up, but a girl can always dream!
You might think it looks very similar to one I photographed last month at Gresgarth Hall, but though that one’s undeniably pretty, to an anorak like me, this one is infinitely more desirable: one of those head-turning plants I’ve written about before. You may have to just take my word for that, but if there’s anything of the collector in you, you’ll perhaps understand.
As it’s International Happiness Day, I’m contemplating the happiness instructions we’re typically given about the importance of being happy with what we have (I am); the admonitions to admire without desiring (surely it isn’t all that wicked to covet a plant? Just one plant?); even relinquishing our worldly possessions (I have managed to kill off a few roses, if that counts as relinquishing, but I’m not ready for anything drastic)…
I agree with the philosophers in theory, but in practice, I’m still lovelorn, suffering from plantlust. At least I have my fond memories of the all-too brief moments we spent together…