Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Hellebore

Annie Laurie's Hellebore

I first met Annie Laurie at the library where she had been a long time volunteer--over 30 years. She came once a week and did whatever was needed, and before she left, she picked up bagful of books to read. Reading was her passion. Then she developed breast cancer and eventually she was not well enough to volunteer any more. That's when Beth and I began to take bags of books to her house, mostly mysteries which were her favorites, and stay for a visit. In the comfort of Annie Laurie's home, I learned what a character she really was. She was opinionated, strong-willed, and very funny. We always had a good visit with lots of laughter even when her health was rapidly failing at the end.

One of our most memorable visits was when Annie Laurie took Beth and I on a tour of the flowers around her farm house. Flowers and plants were another passion of hers. Rail thin and hobbling with her cane, she showed us lilies, daffodils, and hellebores. The hellebores were the favorite of both Beth's and mine. Over the years, Miss Annie Laurie had developed a forest floor of them. Under the shade of large trees, she showed us the many kinds she had. I didn't really appreciate all of the different varieties she was showing us, but I did appreciate the unassuming, downward facing, simple blossoms I saw.

After that, Beth and I were both in love with hellebores and wanted some for our gardens. But you know how it is, we never got around to getting any. That is why we were both so thrilled and honored when her sister, Dot, give us some from Annie Laurie's garden after she passed away.

I carefully chose a shaded spot by my front door to plant mine. It didn't seem to take the transplant so well and it's large leaves flopped. However, it seemed to be surviving. Beth and I exchanged letters with Dot from time to time, and she always asked how our hellebores were doing. I said mine was doing fine. I didn't think that she needed to know that maybe I hadn't done such a good job transplanting it and that it was struggling. Then a few months ago, she said that her's were blooming and wondered if ours were. I told her not yet because I didn't have anything more than one small bud forming at the base of the plant. I figured when that bloomed, I would take a picture of it to send to her and carefully crop out the flopping leaves.

Bloom on end of smashed stock
Well, the stalk with the bud grew and grew until it was about 6 inches tall and was ready to bloom any day. And that's when it happened. Workman at the house stepped on it. I was upset, but worried more about what I was going to tell Dot. However, a few other buds showed up and they actually bloomed this week. And the best part of all is that the stalk that got stepped on has a flower on it's end also.

Now I could say something about the tenacity that Annie Laurie had in her life and how that was represented by my hellebore's blooming smashed stem. Or I could say something about the blooms and how they were a sign from her, that she was still with us in a way. However, I would really like to think about my hellebore in the terms of how much Annie Laurie, Beth, and I would have laughed during the story I would tell about the hellebore I tried to plant and how it got smashed. :)