Monday, January 21, 2013

Cold flowers

Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Sunday. Despite the warm January weather - 51'F/ 11'C - there were few people out. The water on the harbor was choppy, the weather already on its way. 

A woman walking with her husband stopped and asked me what these flowers were, after I had straightened from my photographng crouch.

 Hellebores, I said.

...Hee...? she queried.

Heh-luh-bores. I said, more slowly.

She looked blank, but I could see her thinking: Heal the boers. He labours. Heel the boars?


Lenten roses, I offered. And added, They're early.

Thank you, she said, and they moved off.

So what were the flowers? asked her husband, leaning in towards her as they walked away., she said. And then they were out of earshot.

They are in full bloom about month ahead of their schedule (last year I saw them in March, early and late; the year before in February, in snow). And they are in for a nasty shock. So are the azaleas in bud on Montague Street, the camellia on Pacific Street, and the premature and tender shoots of daffodils. I don't think even the toughest, cold-loving flowers can withstand temperatures of 11/F and -9'C.


  1. "Heal the boers. He labours. Heel the boars?" - this is amusing! :) It was very nice to read.

  2. In England these are known as Christmas Rose because they bloom close to Christmas ( in the West Country).

    1. Well, I think we should adopt your name, now. Certainly closer to Christmas than to Lent.

  3. You are in for some Arctic weather, or so I read in this morning's Cape Times.
    In my language, -6 and max - 2. Yikes.

  4. I'm interested to know how they hold up in the frigid temps. I can never get used to Hellebores blooming early. We grow some of the cultivars from the HGC series and some in that series bloom as early as Thanksgiving (in VA). They're marketed as a pot crop that you can then plant outside. I like the idea, but I just can't wrap my ahead it. Like the green ketchup from a few years ago. With my eyes closed, it was normal ketchup, but with my eyes open, it was wrong in a way I couldn't reconcile.


Comments left on older posts are moderated (purely for spam control). Please be patient, you will be seen!