WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2012/2013

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/92498

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Page 25 of 203

gardening in bloom greenhouse flower beds the green scene Winter Jewels flora horticulture shrubbery RUTH FURMAN writer ' tis the seasonof myth, legend, custom, and fable: kissing under the mistletoe, decorating a tree, and hang- ing an evergreen wreath. A fable centers around what is known as "the Christmas rose," which is neither a rose or in bloom at Christmas. The story is that a young country girl accompanied the shepherds to the stable in Bethlehem where she shed tears because she had no gift for the baby Jesus. An angel took pity on her and touched the ground where her tears fell and pure white rose-like flowers appeared which the young girl gathered into a bou- quet, her gift for the newborn. Helleborus niger belongs to the Ranunculaceae or buttercup family and is not a rose, although it does resemble a single small one. Its common name is Christmas rose which seems odd for a white flower. Its roots are black and, as with many members of the Ranunculaceae family, it has poisonous parts. Hellebores have a long history of cultivation with a wealth of superstition surrounding them. They contain alkaloids and other chemicals that are quite poi- sonous but when used in small quantities are medicinally efficacious. Frequently found planted around old monasteries in Europe they are one of the four classic poisons along with nightshade, aconite, and hemlock. It was used in medieval times to purge the mind of melan- choly and cheer the heart, as well as to keep evil spirits from animals. In the wild, hellebores are native to southern and central Europe, growing on alpine slopes in stony calcareous soil. There are about 15 species of hellebores with H. orientalis, the Lenten 24 RUTH FURMAN is a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist (MCH). She trained in horticulture in England and spent many happy years working and gardening there. To reach Ms. Furman, email her at: Ruth@ wellesleywestonmagazine.com. WellesleyWeston Magazine | winter 2012/2013 GORD ANA SERMEK / DREAMSTIME . COM

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