Winter Kills But False (Hellebores) Prove True (Stillwater Diary)

White Pine, Rhododendron, 4/12/15, Stone Ridge, NY

Left to right: white pine and rhododendron, 4/12/15, Stone Ridge, NY

While the ravages of this cruel winter on some of the evergreens–white pines and rhododendron–are preferable to damage done by borers, fungi or the wooly adelgid, in that they timed out with the arrival of spring (neither Susan nor the forester had heard of current, non-weather related problems with either plant), it’s dispiriting nonetheless.

The combination of many of these conditions–too cold, too dry, too wet, too much sun bouncing off snow, as if it were a giant suntanning reflector, temperatures fluctuating too much in a short period of time–discolored the needles of the white pines, and heavy branches, entire saplings and sections of crowns seemed to be rusting.

Too many rhododendron leaves are stained or spotted copper, victims of drying winds (despite having been appropriately sprayed). And some leaves that are green have remained curled into themselves as if to keep warm. I know they’ll brown and fall.

But last Friday, in the monochromatic beauty of the Groverkill and its banks in early spring, I noticed a shock of bright green, the return of the faithful false hellebores (which Sally identified for me eight years ago). By Sunday, pleated leaves were flourishing in the mud, leaves and water. I’m hoping for the skinny spikes carrying small lime-colored flowers, which capriciously appear in random years. I’ve been unable to determine which are the favorable conditions.

False hellebores, 4/19/15, Stone Ridge, NY

False hellebores, 4/19/15, Stone Ridge, NY

I was thinking of a song and a movie when I wrote the headline for this post: director William Richert’s “Winter Kills,” with Jeff Bridges and John Huston; and “Canadee-I-O” (“For if the sailors prove false to you, Well, the captain, he might prove true”), sung by Nic Jones (on his 1980 album, “Penguin Eggs”), included in a mix Mike made for me, “Songs That Influenced Bob Dylan.” Dylan’s recorded it in 1992 on “Good as I Been to You.”

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One Response to Winter Kills But False (Hellebores) Prove True (Stillwater Diary)

  1. Pingback: The Stressful Side of Pastoral (Stillwater Diary) | Talking Pictures

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