It is now officially spring, snow has melted, buds are budding, and it seems like a good time for an overview of recent developments.

Driveway Border, March 21, 2021

So most of the garden still looks like this, but there are green bits emerging and even a few flowers.

Actually, the Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis and G. elwesii) are already past their prime.


Here and there are a few small clumps or individual Crocuses.

Crocus patch gnawed by rabbits.

Rabbits murdered my dreams of big drifts of Crocuses throughout the garden. You can see how they have grazed here on the tender new Crocus shoots. If you look closely you will see a slice of Irish Spring soap, which I have distributed around the garden near my Crocuses (after the small massacre depicted here), Tulips, and Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Some of my readers swear by its effectiveness as a rabbit deterrent. We shall see.


In terms of blooms, Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis) are the story of the day. I’ve moved from skeptic to booster when it comes to this plant. The early blooms make me happy, and the foliage is nearly indestructible.

My only criticism is how their flowers face downwards, with very few exceptions.

Cut Hellebore flowers.

But for that probem, there is an easy solution: just cut the flowers, bring them indoors, and float them in water.

Now, as to the Lurie Garden. Our post created a certain amount of controversy. In fact, we were contacted by Donna LaPietra, Chair of the Millenium Park Foundation Board. (Actually, we had met Donna twice in 2018 when her private garden was opened to the public – see here and here.)

Donna assured us that a new Head Horticulturist was about to be hired. Sure enough, yesterday the Lurie Garden announced the hiring of Kathryn Deery, who comes to this position from the Chicago Botanic Garden. Donna informed us that more staff will be hired and programs restored, though not the membership program.

Judy and I remain dismayed by the termination of the former staff, given their dedication and the superlative quality of their work. Even so, we congratulate Ms. Deery on her new position, and hope to see the Lurie Garden progress under her leadership.

27 Comments on “Garden Updates: Hellebores, Crocuses, Lurie Garden, And More”

  1. I have the same hellebores & they are having a great year. I too wish they faced upwards. Do your cats leave the floating blooms alone? Mine don’t. One in particular likes to smack them and create a sploosh of water which she then jumps back from as if being attacked. It doesn’t stop her though. She’s on a personal mission to smack each bloom. That was my one and only time of bringing the blooms in.

  2. It is inspirational to see that your post about the Lurie Garden aroused such a strong reaction among so many, provoking as well as response from the Chair of the Millennium Park Foundation Board. I hope that the optimism for the future proves warranted.

  3. Irish Spring soap? Now that is a new rabbit deterrent that I had not heard of before. Will have to try it.
    My hellebores are out in all their glory, just like yours. They are indispensable late winter into spring perennials.
    Interesting that you got such a response to your Lurie Garden post. Hope it will prosper.

  4. Good to see your garden waking up, Gorgeous crocus, so vibrant, shame about the massacre though, pesky rabbits. Loving your hellebores, I must put some in a bowl, how pretty they look. Good news re the Lurie garden although a shame re the former

  5. I’d never heard of hellebores until this year, and it seems they’re a favorite of so many. I just explored whether they could be grown here, and it seems the answer is no. People in Dallas seem able to encourage them along, but of course Dallas is quite a distance north of us. I wish I could grow them — I’d love to be able to arrange them in a bowl as you have. That’s a neat solution to their downward-facing tendencies.

    I’m glad you learned more about the plans for the Lurie, too. I certainly hope all goes well for them, and that those who contributed so much in the past can find equally satisfying work.

  6. As a backup plan to the Iris Spring trick, maybe you need to grab a chair, a shotgun, and venture outside in the spring sunshine. I almost loaded up the kids’ airgun when rabbits decimated almost all of my Epimedium blossoms, a couple of years ago. I was mortified! But then an owl moved in, and the rabbits seemed to somehow disappear. I can’t say I miss them much, even though they are kind of cute. Sorry to hear about the Lurie Garden woes. I hope they can recover and rehire their staff. Judging from the perspective of the nursery industry, gardening will have another banner year, which I think can help in the recovery – and hopefully that of Lurie, too.

  7. Congratulations on writing a blog that makes a difference! It is wonderful that your commentary drew a response, but your point about a dedicated staff is well taken. I had never heard of Irish Spring as a rabbit deterrent, but I am herewith adding it to my shopping list!

  8. Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but if I lived in a pretty house like that, I would glow low flowers like these all year! I could not bear to obscure the house with tall flowers. I know they are grand and such, but that house is pretty. (I notice it because such houses are scarce in California.)

  9. Very pleased to read that the Lurie Garden has responded, and will continue, although it is disappointing to lose the previous experienced, hard working staff.
    I have put off growing Hellebores because they all seem to face down when flowering, but yours do look lovely in the big dish, so I’ll plant some! It is really sad to see your beautiful Crocuses being nibbled down to the ground, the best of Irish luck to you with the spring Irish soap.

  10. Pingback: The Garden Says It Is Spring – gardeninacity

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