More on the hellebore

It is March now, and we had a small taste of spring last week when the temperatures reached unbelievable 74ºF. Since then, there was more wind and rain and even snow. The plants are taking it slow. At this time of the year, the stars of our garden are the lentenrose hellebores.

Buds open to show nodding flowers in pink, dark red, purple, greenish white, and cream with beautiful speckles. Those colorful flower parts are actually sepals, not petals. The petals are modified into nectaries, small cup-shape structures arranged in a ring around the base of the flower. Here, a reward for pollinators is produced and stored. The sepals don’t fall off when the flower is pollinated but will stay on the plant, sometimes for months until the seedpods are ripe.

As pretty as a hellebore is, the whole plant is poisonous. Fortunately, it tastes so bad that even hungry animals can’t be tempted. If someone were to consume a lot of it despite that taste, hellebores would cause vomiting and nervous symptoms like tinnitus, stupor and perhaps even depression and death.

As is often the case with poisonous plants, hellebores were used in medicine. In ancient Greece and during medieval times, they were prescribed as a cure for madness. The plants had their role in witchcraft, too, specifically in curses that were meant to cause insanity. Good, that a course of hellebore could have been taken as an antidote.

Antidote or not, who is bewitched by the beauty of the Helleborus flower will be fine. I am sure of it.

A little sign of spring

We have some good news to report: This year, we will be open to the public again almost like before this terrible pandemic. Beginning in April (and a little depending on the weather), we will resume our regular open hours on weekend afternoons. During this time, a gardener will be there to talk with and answer questions. At other times, the gate may be open and visitors are very welcome to walk around or sit down for a little while. We missed our guests from the neighborhood, the rest of New York and all over the world so much!

Also, even though there is again snow in the forecast for tonight, the warm days during the last weeks have coaxed some early spring flowers out of hibernation. Above are the bright yellow winter aconites. And of course, there are snow drops.

The first of the lenten roses are also opening now. These hellebores are hybrids of the species Helleborus orientalis and come in a variety of beautiful colors from cream-white to dark red. There is also a pure white hellebore, the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger), but this kind blooms in the dead of winter and is already past its prime in February. The lenten roses that bloom now were welcomed by neighborhood honey bees last week, when it was warm enough for some worker bees to leave their hive and forage for fresh nectar and pollen.
Soon, there will be more flowers to be enjoyed by both insect and human visitors of our garden.

Open Garden Day

Yesterday was GreenThumb’s “Open Garden Day”. This was the first official event since the beginning of the Pandemic. What a wonderful change! We organized a meditation session in the morning followed by our seventh annual Rose Walk.

Finally, visitors can walk along the paths again instead of seeing the garden from outside the fence.

It was a perfect sunny summer day and many visitors were happy to see the gates open. Of the roses, only the last varieties were still blooming; but these are some of our prettiest roses, like the profusely blooming “Ballerina”.

The upcoming stars are Clematis. One grows next to Ballerina. Many more are found throughout the garden.

For the evening, we had another surprise for our gardeners and neighbors: The “Nevermind Orchestra” came over to play two sets with their signature Nirvana songs. Live Music, loud, cheerful and fun, how much did we miss it!

When the “Nevermind Orchestra” plays, it can be heard far and wide.

This was a great day and a perfect start of a new chapter: from now on, we will open our gates every weekend afternoon until late fall.

We are excited that the “Nevermind Orchestra” will return for “Make Music New York” on June 21.

We are Back

After a very long pause, and a very strange year, we are finally back!

There is so much to tell. in Fall 2019, we got our wonderful new fence. Then, the pandemic began and forced us to close our gates to the public for more than a year. Fortunately, the new fence is low and neighbors and passerbys could catch a good view of the flowers from the periphery of the garden.

Several gardeners moved out of the city temporarily. For the rest of us, the garden was a welcome haven where we could relax and forget the worries of the world for a little while. Working in the ground, pruning, planting and harvesting gave us the feeling that things will be all right.

We are grateful that all of our members are well. Most of us are vaccinated, and like the city, we are going to open up more and more. We will begin to host events again, too (stay tuned).

Therefore: Welcome back friends!



It is a lovely time in the garden: Irises, roses and peonies are blooming with profusion. Here are a few of our beauties:

Stanwell perpetual in the evening light reflected from the windows of a nearby building.
One of our beautiful pink roses
The peonies are just starting to open now.
This spectacular columbine was grown from a seed. In the background is our beloved rose “Zephirine Drouhin”.
Irises come in an astonishing array of colors.

It is time for the 6th Annual Rose Walk!

Time flies! Not too long ago, I wrote about rose pruning, and now it is already time for the rose walk. Like for the last 5 years, we have labeled almost all of our roses and will be there to celebrate their beauty for the next two weeks. Right now, only  the earliest roses are blooming: The Rosa rugosa varieties, Stanwell Perpetual and Morden Blush. But the others have big buds and we expect more and more to begin flowering every day. Please find below the guide for our rose walk. And if the roses are still in bud, enjoy the other late spring flowers, for instance the beautiful irises or the last of the tulips.

Henry Hudson and Stanwell Perpetual

Alliums show their purple globes, the first irises are open and the English bluebells are perfect right now.

Guide for the 6th Annual Rose Walk

Welcome to our sixth annual Rose Walk. LaGuardia Corner Gardens is a forty-year old community garden with many roses planted throughout the years. We have tried to identify all our blooming beauties, but we are still unsure of a few. If you can help solve any of these mysteries, we would be happy to hear from you. Meanwhile, as you stroll through the garden, we have labeled those roses that we know by name and hope this will help you identify your favorites. Enjoy.

Enter the gate and look to your left. There is a collection of roses that include Alba White Meidiland, the early blooming Stanwell Perpetual and Charles Mallerin.

Phloxy Baby

Now, continue on the path and under the arbor covered with Don Juan. Through the arbor to your right is Phloxy Baby, a 2016 winner of the American Garden Rose Selections and a newcomer to our garden, At Last, that we received at a GreenThumb rose planting and caring workshop earlier this year. Directly in front of you in the border, The Fairy is planted to the right of the large Rosa laxa. Please take a look at the other roses in this area to your left, which have yet to be identified.

Heading up the path, you will see Madame Hardy in the border, a Damask rose that is considered one of the most beautiful white roses ever bred (in 1832 by Alexander Hardy who named it after his wife Félicité). Next are several specimens of the Floribunda rose Pink Simplicity and the lavender colored Paradise.

Further down the path reveals Lavender Dream. Proudland is the red rose to your left. This area also contains several unidentified roses.

Pink Simplicity

Turning the corner, you will see a Double Pink Knock-out rose on the right, and a little down the path, Dream Weaver appears on the left along with Pretty Jessica.

The next corner contains Chrysler Imperial, one of our oldest roses that was planted in a brick well 39 years ago. It won a GreenThumb contest and a wheelbarrow for the garden back in the ‘80’s.

Turning the tight corner, you will come to a large grove of tall red roses, Dr. Huey, frequently used as rootstock for hybrid roses. You will also see Citrus Tease, and to your right is a rose which we still need to identify.

Orange Honey

Following in the border is White Dawn. Look back into the garden to see Orange Honey Sunny Yellow Knockout and Oso Smoothie Pink. There is also Baronne Prévost, an antique hybrid perpetual, and Green Ice, grown from a cutting a few years ago. In the back, you can see one of our newest additions, the grandiflora rose Anna’s Promise, also a gift from GreenThumb.

Next are Livin’ Easy and further back English Miss. In the border, you will find French Lace, Eglantyne and Morden Blush. In the middle of the garden is one recently planted old garden rose Apple blossom, which was newly grown by the Heritage Rose Foundation and donated to a GreenThumb rose pruning event four springs ago.

By now we are sure you are drawn to Zephirine Drouhin. This thornless beauty has been with us a long time. Happy Chappy and Peach Drift, which came to the garden from an AARS giveaway in Union Square years ago, are also here.

Canary Island Damask

Please continue down the path, past the gate, and on your way to the patio. You will pass Love and Peace, which was planted in honor of two young neighborhood NYPD auxiliary officers, Nick Pekearo & Eugene Marshalik, who were gunned down on Sullivan street in 2007. Next is Chicago Peace. Follow your nose and be enthralled by the fragrance of Souvenir de la Malmaison, one of our Bourbon roses.

The following section, next to the patio, is the most concentrated rose garden. Within this area, you will find two other Bourbon roses, Kronprinzessin Viktoria and Captaine Dyel de Graville. There are also a rare Canary Island Damask rose next to Munstead Wood and the hybrid Tea rose Leonie’s Appoline. Near the back fence is Pat Austin.


On the other side of the patio, you will find the Rosa rugosa cultivar Henry Hudson and behind it on the fence the tall Carmenetta, a Rosa glauca cross. Further towards the path is the hybrid Musk rose The Ballerina. The Ballerina appears again with Dames de Chenonceau and a Pink Meidiland. The very last plot has The Fairy, Tropicana and Dan Poncet.

After leaving the garden, please also take a look at our small North Garden which contains a pink double Rosa rugosa variety and Pink Simplicity. You will also find the red floribunda rose  Europeana. Finally, there are the European wild rose Rosa rubifolia and the climbing rose Maigold.

Thank you for coming! We hope this has been enjoyable and informative. We appreciate your ideas and input. If you think you can identify any of our mystery roses, please inform the guardian on duty or send us an e-mail:

Citrus Tease and Dr. Huey