Monday, February 27, 2012

Our new Hellebores from the Festival

Hope everyone enjoyed the last series of photos of Pine Knots best hellebores in their garden. Here are the 7 hellebores and 2 cyclamens we purchased at the hellebore festival.

 This double hellebore (above and below are the same) was likely the prettiest one we picked out. Granted now we arrived 30 minutes into day 2 of the festival a lot of the best doubles had been picked over. This one is on the smallish side, the view from the top is what drew me to this plant. Just so you know this is a one of a kind strain labeled simply Pine Knot Double Pink.

Here is Helleborus Viridus which was collected in the wild in Northern Italy. Saw photos of this on John's blog and just had to get one of these. This is a species of hellebore we didn't  have. Picked up Helleborus purpurascen collected in the wild in Romania last year, I thought the plant was dying in the heat of the summer, but now it looks great. If I was ever thinking about doing any cross breeding, these plants might make something different.

 Helleborus x 'Penny's Pink' (above and below) the only cloned hellebore we bought also the most expensive. Very impressive brand new sterile hybrid, read more about it here. I did not see any as pink as the photos on the link I just gave you. These were only available one to a customer.
 Above is the white double hellebore Meg picked out. Nice form and very white, slightly on the small side, but we really like it.
Above is what might be considered a semi double white picotee hellebore. It charmed us both right into our basket. We have one white picotee in our garden already, this one has a lot nicer form to it IMO.
 This beauty jumped right into the basket. Once home I realized one of the ones given to us by a friend that finally bloomed this year has the same coloring, but is not as pointed petaled as this one.

 Same here, just jumped into the basket. You can see our garden's hellebores from 2010 at this page. Some have been died, others have bloomed, I need to update it, but it is getting very hard to do because we have so many.

 I just could not resist buying these 2 Cyclamen coum above and below is 'Silver leaf White'

 This is also a Cyclamen coum above and below, the tag is out in the rain I'll add it later.
I could have bought 20 different hardy cyclamen, they always have some one selling them at the hellebore festival.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pine Knot Farms Hellebore Fest 2012

Well we arrived about 30 minutes after the festival started, barely a parking space. A lot of the best hellebores had been chosen already. The plan was to get 2 maybe 3, instead we got 7. I'll show you in the next post what we got.

The day was sunny, chilly and extremely windy, so getting good garden photos was a real challenge.

Here are some of the hellebores from the gardens at Pine Knot Farm.
I think this one (above and below) was the show stopper, I found this in a huge garden of of just doubles. The bees my girlswould love this one.

This single (above and below) was in the garden where everyone had to walk by, best location in the garden, hands down best single.

Both of these double hellebores were top on my list.

Above is a portion of the double hellebore bed I just mentioned.

A lovely single deep pink picotee.

 The new ones we purchased I'll post soon, have a look at the hellebore garden blooms in our garden last season. We visited the Pine Knot Farm Hellebore Festival for the first time on March 07, 2010 here is the report, much more doubles this year!
Guess what you still have a chance to go as next week Friday and Saturday in the last days of the festival. Pine Knot Farm is  about 1.5 hours from Durham and Chapel Hill just inside Virginia, everyone we met was from the area where we live.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Hellebores blooming in the garden!

Last Spring I purchased a Corsican Hellebore, I'd been admiring the same plant on Catherine's blog in the Pacific Northwest. Once I stumbled onto the plant I just had to have it.

Corsican Hellebore, unlike most of the other hellebores in our garden this one grows many flowers on the same stem, there will be 4-5 other flower this year. In future years it should have a lot more than this first blooming season plant.
Here are two white picotee hellebores. The upper picotee is supposed to be a double, it does barely make it, I'm not yet impressed with it, perhaps other blooms will prove it to be a winner.

The lower yellow picotee is the very first bloom from Helleborus X 'Gold Finch' purchased at Pine Knot Farms in 2010, the bloom is huge at least 4 inches, this one I really like even if it is a single. I thought this plant was lost, but it stood out and looks so yellow, not white.

In the morning we are going to the Pine Knot Farms Hellebore Festival!!
 Above is Flower Record crocus, it does very well here and it one of the biggest crocuses in our garden. The first blooms of this either a squirrel or something ate the blooms, luckily there is maybe 30 of these blooming right now.
 Above is Pickwick crocus, it goes great with Flower Record as they open about the same time, it is big also.
 Here is Tricolor crocus, surprised me by putting on a decent show and you can clearly see here this 3 year old bulb is multiplying. I recently had another blogger comment that these are squirrel food in their garden.
 These large white crocus are really full of pollen, can you see the pollen puddle?
This crocus is for Andrea on the other side of the world! I just love the way these glow, not sure of the name? I planted a Ruby Giant, but have not seen anything what I'd call ruby. So if I'm correct we have had 11-12 different crocus bloom in February, yes February usually we get lucky to have 2-3 crocuses blooming in February.

Wanted to tell you we have been seeing Eastern Painted Turtles sunning on the edges of the pond in the past week. Upland Chorus Frogs have been calling non stop, Spring Peepers are still a few calls at a time, soon we'll have intense frog concerts!  I heard a Pickerel Frog the other day.

Oh, it reached 80 degrees today. This morning I was wearing a tee shirt and put on a long sleeve shirt and were out, came right back in and removed the long sleeve shirt it was 62 degrees at 7am.

Last item, I did a varroa mite treatment on the bees today, my sticky board test had 57 mites on it in 22.5 hours, 50 in 24 hours says treatment is needed. I borrowed a billows to blow in powered sugar from a friend, but found it not covering the bees very much.  So I placed a window screen over the boxes of bees and poured on the powered sugar and used my bee brush to spread it between the frames. The way the powered sugar works is you cover the bees with it. The fine power to the mites it is like stepping on marbles, they fall to the bottom through the screen and die. The bees also clean themselves and knock off mites, and they get a little snack as well. I'll need to do this about every week for another 3 weeks or so, to reduce the varroa population in the hive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bees Update Febuary 22!

Last Friday I did a hive inspection. The hive looks pretty good for the most part.

The hive has plenty of honey stores almost 10 deep frames of honey. Pollen was less than I expected given the bees have been bringing in non stop on warm days. Surely they must be consuming it for brood production as they get it. Brood was light, no packed frames by any means, this should be OK as it is still winter.

 All stages on the life cycle were observed, eggs, larva and capped brood. The eggs I actually found the next day on some burr comb I had removed. The eggs on the burr comb were drone eggs as the cells were the correct size. No adult drones were noted. Checked for queen cells and did not see any, 3 frames were not checked as I found the queen and stopped the inspection.

As for pests in the hive I saw around 6 Small Hive Beetles and did not find any mites visible to the naked eye. I did find several dead new born bees in their cells , one looked to have been opened by the undertaker bees. Here is the bad part, the bottom of the hive had 300-500 dead bees on the bottom screen. Likely these died of old age or were frozen during the recent 20 degree night we had. Either way the hive is strong with 10,000 plus bees inside. The bees need to get busy removing the dead bees, I have opened the entrance to make that easier for them.

I did see a couple of bees with mildly crumpled wings, I think this might have been a result of the new born bees still pumping fluid into the wings, I have seen butterflies do that many times. If I'm wrong then I might have DWV (Deformed Wing Virus), but from what I have read, the bees barely have any wings at all, mine were nearly complete just not fully expanded. DWV is a result of varroa mites in most cases.

This video is from today February 22, 2012 about mid day.
The clip is 2 minutes you will see a lot of pollen being carried home for just two minutes.

Since the bees tried to raise drone brood in burr comb I have decided we need to get and install some drone frames. From what I have heard it is good to have a frame of drone comb in the hive, let the queen fill it with drone brood then remove it and destroy it to control the varroa mites. Varroa mites prefer drone brood because they take several days longer to grow than workers and this works better for the varroa mite life cycle.  

Setting up hive number 2 on April 14th and helping a friend set up a new hive the following weekend.

Here is a lovely crocus from the garden. We also have lots of Tricolor, Flower Record and a large white crocus in bloom in the garden. Last check we had 4 types of daffodils blooming also.

Meg saw the first yard butterfly on Saturday, a Mourning Cloak. I happened to see it today along our road also. They over winter under debris and come out on warm bright days during the winter here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Finally Winter Arrives

Last night we received almost two inches of snow. Today it mostly melted. It was wet snow and weighted down the hellebores and camellias to the ground nearly. No harm was done.

As many of you might already know we have not really had a real winter here.

 First time we had ice in the rain chains!!
 This is the chair I sit in to watch the bees come and go at the hive. It did not take long for the snow to vanish here.
 This Helleborus foetidus  was featured last week on this blog it was 3 foot tall last week.
 These hellebores were featured last week on this blog, see what they looked like last week.

The mid morning the sun was shining and the snow was melting off the roof. The rain chains were lit in the sun asI took this video sideways. Took about an hour as I learned to use Imovie and flipped the movie over and uploaded it to YouTube.

Thanks to all of you that signed (and Tweeted) the petition for the EPA to do the right thing and not allow a pesticide that might be harming the bee populations in the USA. Better science is needed to make sure this stuff is safe for future generations of honey bees.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Urgent: Save the Bees by Tuesday!

Deadline Tuesday: Save the honey bees!
Dear Friends,

Since 2006, U.S. honey bee populations have been in precipitous decline, with some estimates suggesting losses as high as 30% per year. While that's terrible, the problem is far greater than just the loss of a species. Without bees, our food supply is in serious danger. Pollination by honey bees is key in cultivating the crops that produce a full one-third of our food.

A leaked memo suggests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ignored the science linking the pesticide clothianidin to the bee die-off.

Now the EPA is considering whether to renew approval of clothianidin. Submit a comment asking EPA to reject this dangers chemical that is killing honey bees - hurry, the comment period closes on Tuesday:

Please sign this Meg and I both strongly support stopping this craziness!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bloom Day my first!

I've been reading Bloom Day posts for years but have never joined in with my own post. Today I'm late but wanted to join. Hellebores in the garden are really going at it, many more yet to open, so I thought I would show you what we have right now, not all but some of our best.

We plan on going on Saturday Feb. 25 to the Pine Knot Farms Hellebore Festival Any one else going let me know perhaps we could meet up? Not sure we'll buy much as taxes this year has busted our budget.

This is Red Lady one of our first hellebores we purchased, you can see why.
Helleborus Breezy 13
 Likely the biggest Helleborus hybridus in our garden. These are named 'Breezy" as our friend Breezy was moving and she let us dig these hellebores out of her garden.
Helleborus Breezy 09
 This is growing under our back deck, never seen two so different flowers on a single plant!
Helleborus Breezy 04
 Just starting in the front garden, this flower has been smiling like that at us for weeks!
Helleborus Breezy 03 
This is the first bloom on this plant really looking forward to seeing the blooms, any day....
Helleborus Breezy 08
 One of the first to open here. You can see seeds are setting in and seedlings off to the lower left.
Helleborus Breezy 07
 Been waiting to see the first blooms on this plant as well.
Helleborus foetidus 
(above showing slight pink edges and huge seed pods)
(below the full plant)
 Really proud of this plant,can it get any bigger? The bees have been enjoying all these flowers.

Pansy 'Purple Wing'
Most the pansies and violas in the garden have been slightly set back by the recent 20 degree night we had about a week ago. These look pretty good IMO.

 Ok we did not grow these lilies. Below are the locally grown lilies I got Meg for Valentines. These lilies we buy them often, the aroma can take over the house and they last about two weeks. See the large white one O measured it 9 1/2 inches across if that tells you the scale of these lilies.
Lots of people buy store purchased roses for Valentines, not many know the terrible conditions some of those roses are grown in South America and Africa. I will not bother you with the details this blog touches on it very well.
Here are the Sugar Snap Peas I planted on January 26. Seems I added organic fertilizer to one of the patches, the patch without fertilizer looks better than the one with the fertilizer. The peas planted last fall it appears the 20 degree night toasted them. Meg reminded me peas do not need fertilizer.

The bees are doing well, I added another super for honey yesterday and opened up the entrance for them to reduce the traffic jambs at the entrance. It looked like 3 out of 4 bees were returning with pollen!

Be sure to visit May Dreams Garden to see other Bloom Day posts.