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Who stole the show

Tuesday 2 February 2010 - Filed under Nurseries + Plants

black hellebore
On Sunday I attended the Timber Press Spring Book Soiree, where a handful of authors spoke and read passages from their books. The biggest wave of excitement from the crowd happened when Roger Gossler of Gossler Farms Nursery showed off a Helleborus with a true black flower, and then announced that it was one of the raffle prizes. Sadly I didn’t win it, but I did come away with a phone number of a nursery that carries them, although I missed the name of the nursery itself. I can share more details when I get them if anyone really needs this plant.

black hellebore
I’ll confess, I had lost interest in hellebores after seeing them everywhere. I even tossed large healthy plants into the compost bin, but I have renewed interest in this one. Gossler also shared a fact I didn’t know. Helleborus foetidus, aka the stinking hellebore, only stinks in an enclosed space. I didn’t ever notice an odor so I assumed the name was an oddity, but there’s a reason for it, just not one you have to worry about in the garden.

roger gossler at garden fever
I went to the event looking forward to seeing Roger Gossler, and I was apparently not alone, as his introduction included the phrase “for all you Roger Gossler Groupies…” which I guess I am. He has a new book, The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs. While some of the other authors did readings and showed off their books, Gossler brought a vase full of branches off shrubs in his own garden. He pulled out branches one by one and showed them off, and since I am also a Chief Joseph Pine groupie, I was excited that it made an appearance.
As the groupie I am, I cornered Gossler during one of the breaks. It makes me feel both that I’m in good company, and that I’m in for years of garden heartbreak, that even a lifetime dedicated plantsman has hunted for coveted plants for 30 years, and he has experienced the loss of said coveted plants after he has finally found them. The universal experience of the plant collector, I suppose, the rare plants are rare for a reason. I’ll get more of a look at the Gossler collection next week when I head down to Springfield for a visit. I will of course have camera in hand, so I can share the treasures I come across.

2010-02-02  »  megan

Talkback x 11

  1. cindee
    2 February 2010 @ 9:54 am

    HI Megan,
    I agree, Roger Gossler is a gem. I think the place he recommended getting the black hellebores was probably Northwest Garden Nursery. Google them. Great post!

  2. Grace
    2 February 2010 @ 1:16 pm

    Hi Megan~~ I was in Eugene a few years ago. It was a pleasure perusing the paths of Greer Gardens fwhich led to a pathetic emptying of my wallet. My one regret about that day is not making the effort to get to Gossler’s.

    What a testament to his humble plantsmanship that he would be more interested in touting his plants rather than his book.

    I anticipate a full report upon your return. Have a fabulous time!

  3. Karen
    2 February 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    This is the second time I have heard this guy mentioned in a week. How did I miss him before? I’ll have to check the listings for the garden show here this week and see if he is speaking. I was never a hellebore fan but have become one recently, I think I need more of them and I can see why that black one would become a must-have for you. I hope you find it!

  4. Jane/Mulchmaid
    2 February 2010 @ 1:42 pm

    Darn, Roger Gossler’s speaking at the NWFGS on Friday, and I’m only attending Wednesday! Maybe Northwest Garden Nursery will be at the show, though.
    That hellebore is gorgeous. It makes me remember the elusive black orchid in the Brenda Starr, Reporter, comic strip (too many years ago…hmm, showing my age here.)

  5. Loree
    2 February 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    I think you should be nominated president of the Gossler Groupies! Cindee is right about the name of the nursery, I was thinking that’s what it was but it seemed too easy. Have fun on your field trip and I can’t wait to hear about what you buy!

    And Jane…he is speaking here in Portland at the YG&P Show, you should go!

  6. Gardeness
    2 February 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    Stunning! As a Hellebore fanatic, my heart is racing seeing that beauty.

  7. Janet
    2 February 2010 @ 5:50 pm

    That Black Hellebore is amazing. I would want to have it up front center to stand out!!

  8. cindee
    3 February 2010 @ 8:03 am

    Hi Megan,
    I forwarded your blog over to Roger, Marj and Erik and they tried to comment, but their address wasn’t recognized, so they asked me to post the message beolw for them.

    I tried to send the following to “nestmaker”, but the program didn’t recognize the address.
    So I thought if you were in touch, you might be able to forward this to her.
    Thanks for the sending the great comments and picture.
    Best, marj

    We just read your very glowing comments on Roger Gossler’s presentation at Garden Fever. Thanks.
    Then all of you 45 pages printed out and Roger had a couple of comments:
    1. Page 21, The fern is Dryopteris wallechiana. Time to give up on Franlinia. It only grows 2-3 years before death. It isn’t hardy here (not enough summer heat). Also, it was essetually extinct when Bartrum found it because it was so weak even without human interference.
    2. Page 23 (top) Parthenocissus henryana.
    Hope this helps and again, thanks for the picture and kind comments re: Roger’s presentation.
    the Gosslers.

  9. megan
    3 February 2010 @ 9:16 am

    Cindee – wow, you are a gem too. Thanks for chasing down all the info, and for following up with the Gosslers themselves. Now they’ve seen me gushing *blush*. So exciting to get comments from them, through you.
    Grace – oh yes, Greer Gardens is down that way too, good reminder, maybe I’ll stop by, but I really shouldn’t be emptying the wallet, I have a big exciting project I’m saving up for. A full report is in store.
    Karen – You’re in luck, he will be there for the Seattle show, you should check him out, whether he’s speaking or just at a booth I’m not sure, but he’s good to talk to either way.
    Jane – as Loree said, he’s up here again soon, a busy couple months for all the spring events, so you should get a chance to see him.
    Gardeness – It is one of those plants that can stop you in your tracks. It induces a racing heart indeed.
    Janet – I agree, it needs a primo spot so you’re sure to enjoy it.

  10. Patricia C, Portland, OR
    3 February 2010 @ 11:23 am

    Mysteries solved! Gotta love your fellow gardening fanatics.

  11. ricki - sprig to twig
    5 February 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    I hope one of you hellebore lovers will one day post a tutorial on their care. Mine grow huge, flop over and hide their flowers from casual viewing.
    My one trip to Gossler Farms was transformational…must somehow get back there. You are in for a treat, and so are we when you post about your visit.