A couple of years ago, more or less on this day, I was leaving Pennsylvania to fly back to England. But first, before I could even drive to the airport, I had to fire up the snow blower and clear the driveway. Clearing snow, walking and making snowmen (plus skating if you feel inclined) are about the only outdoor activities at this time of year here in Pennsylvania. Gardening? Flowers? Forget it.
So it was a real treat to arrive back in Northamptonshire in England the next day and find this big clump of hellebores in full flower. And that contrast is a genuine distillation of the difference in winter conditions between our two homes. It’s a foreign country, things are different there…
And, as it happens, this hellebore is especially interesting. It came from Myddelton House, home of the great plantsman E. A. Bowles on the northern edge of London, and when my fellow Kew trained horticulturalist Geoff Stebbings was in charge of the garden it was the only impressive yellow flowered hellebore growing there. So it was presumed to be the famous ‘Bowles Yellow’ - except that another great plantsman, Graham Stuart Thomas, had determined that a rather unremarkable, much greener flowered plant was the correct bearer of the name 'Bowles Yellow'. Such is the arcane world of old hellebore cultivars.
Suffice it to say that this is lovely and vigorous plant, with large and impressive yellow flowers. I coined the name ‘Myddelton Yellow’ for it, to avoid confusion with the Thomas-approved plant. And it provided a real heart-warming welcome less than 24 hours after wrestling with the snow blower, with all the Pennsylvania hellebores under a foot or more of snow – as they are now.