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Home ShowcR REVIEW EVIEW Friday, December 10, 2010 Tri-City News 35

An alternative to the poinsettia for Christmas IN THE GARDEN Brian Minter

P

oinsettias have a long and interesting history, becoming the number one indoor potted plant grown in the world today. The many new varieties and colours produced each year keep them at the forefront as a Christmas season plant. In the Northern Hemisphere, however, they are a very long crop for growers and require a great deal of labour and energy to produce. A huge amount of research and breeding work has been done to develop new varieties that can not only finish in cooler temperatures, but also be more durable to survive both indoors and out. For years now, I’ve been on a quest to find alternate cool season plants that could be an alternate to poinsettias and still have a connection to many of our Christmas traditions. The Christmas Rose, helleborus niger, is certainly one of the top candidates. Over the past few years, greenhouse growers have been refining their production timing and forcing them into bloom at slightly higher temperatures in order to have those beautiful helleborus blossoms open for the month of December. In zones 6 and above this works well as an outdoor garden or patio container plant, but in zones 5 and lower they need more protection. The challenge is to find a room cool enough for them to last indoors. In Europe, winter blooming hellebores have been very much a traditional Christmas gift for some time now. The Heuger family has been at

the forefront of new breeding to develop better early winter blooming varieties that could be enjoyed over the holiday season. The concept was to develop a series of plants that would naturally bloom in progression from November through March. If they were gently forced into bloom at slightly higher temperatures, they could provide a long lasting flowering plant that could be enjoyed indoors then set back out into the garden to be enjoyed for many years to come. Out of this research came the “Helleborus Gold Collection” which displayed many new characteristics. This collection all bloomed on first year plants if they were started at the right time. Second, they provided lots of blooms that produced over a long period of time, and third, the blossoms were all forward facing for a far more striking appearance. Some of the first varieties have now been on the market for a year or so, with many more about to be introduced this winter and next spring. Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’ (zone 4) has pure white flowers with a slight pink blush in cooler weather. I love their deep burgundy stems and the blossoms have a faint perfume, which makes them ideal as cut flowers. It is one of the earliest blooming hellebores and has the traditional glossy deep green foliage. Helleborus niger ‘Joseph Lemper’ (zone 4), one of the very earliest to bloom, has very large pure white blooms that appear slightly turned, facing upwards. As the blooms mature, they turn an attractive green. The foliage is very attractive, and a rich, dark green. Helleborus niger ‘Pink Frost’ provides a nice variation with its burgundy and white buds that burst open to a lovely soft pink which darkens

with age. As the blooms open in sequence, beautiful shading, from white to pink and red, takes place. Even if it never bloomed, its scented deep green leaves, unique vein display and marbled sheen rivals any evergreen perennial. Some of the new varieties being released this year are H. n. ‘Cinnamon Snow’ (zone 5), with its creamy white flowers touched with rose and

cinnamon. The buds also have a red accent and as the blooms open, they create quite a show. The leaves are very scented and rich green, providing a nice contrast to the blooms. You are going to see the first major release of these new hellebores across the country this holiday season, so do watch for them in your favourite garden centre.

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36 Tri-City News Friday, December 10, 2010

Light up the lanes: the Vancouver Heritage Foundation hosts the first-ever Laneway House Tour Saturday The Vancouver Heritage Foundation is hosting its first-ever Laneway House Tour this weekend, and if ticket sales are any indication, it’s already a success. “We’ve pretty much sold out. I think there might be 20 tickets left,” VHF executive director Diane Switzer said Monday. “For many people, this will be their first look inside a laneway house. Laneway housing was only approved a short time ago (in Vancouver), so now we’re seeing the first batch of laneway homes out of the 100

READERS CARE

Cintas pitches in to help Black Press donate the 1,500 coats the company collected at its Metro Vancouver offices for the GVHBA’s Coats for Kids campaign. Clockwise from centre: Cintas general manager Henk Colyn, Rod Ivey, Maureen Rutherford, Jacob Hansma and Megan Procopio prepare to hit the road with the warm clothing. Tricia Leslie photo

’Tis the season: giving is in TRICIA LESLIE Once again, the local community has proven it is comprised of generous, giving people. They donated thousands of coats and warm articles of clothing – including some brandnew purchases and handmade items – to the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association’s 15th annual Coats for Kids campaign. All donations will go to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau and other charitable organizations, which will ensure the coats and clothes are given to those who need it most. Black Press community newspapers offered most of its Metro Vancouver newspaper offices

as drop-off sites for the GVHBA initiative and amazingly, brought in 1,500 coats for the cause. “Coats for Kids was embraced with overwhelming enthusiasm by our staff and by our readers,” says Black Press senior vice-president of sales and marketing Candy Hodson. “It is so heartwarming to see the profound impact we can have in supporting charities at this time of year.” At Cintas – ‘the uniform people’ – that sentiment was echoed by general manager Henk Colyn, who provided a Cintas truck to transport the mountains of clothing Black Press collected. “Our strong community awareness has

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always been driven first and foremost by our partners from the community,” he says. “But it is through efforts and partnerships, such as with New Local Home and Black Press and Coats for Kids that our partners can really see what the combined efforts of many can do.” GVHBA president and CEO Peter Simpson says this will likely be a record-breaking year, with more than 3,000 coats collected; the final tally is still being counted. “Every year, the public responds very generously. They open their closets and their hearts,” Simpson says. “We’re very pleased to see the support and the generosity. What a great response.”

building permits that have been approved.” Six houses are on the tour, ranging from traditional to modern in all different sizes, Switzer says, and notes that only laneway houses that have been constructed behind existing houses are on the tour. Part of the VHF’s mandate is to keep city streetscapes as unchanged as possible, but because laneway houses are behind the main home, on the lane, they can help add residents without changes to the streetscape, Switzer says. While laneway homes can range from 200-250 square feet to nearly 1,000 sq. ft. – depending on the size of the existing lot – the homes on tour range from about 500 to 750 sq. ft., she says, in one- and two-bedroom designs. “I think people are interested to know what it would be like to live in (a laneway home), or people who already live in small spaces can come and get ideas for their own interior design,” Switzer says. “This might be something some homeowners want to do in their own backyard, whether for renters or for a family member.” The tour happens at select homes in Vancouver on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $50 ($25 tax receipts issued upon request). Project teams will be on-site to discuss each home and there will be Christmas light displays, hot chocolate and cookies. Visit www.vancouverheritagefoundation. org for details – and to find out if there are any tickets left.

Martin Knowles photos

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Friday, December 10, 2010 Tri-City News 37


38 Tri-City News Friday, December 10, 2010

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Friday, December 10, 2010 Tri-City News 39

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40 Tri-City News Friday, December 10, 2010

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*In the continuing effort to meet the challenge of product improvement, we reserve the right to modify or change plans, site plans, specifications or prices without notice. Renderings are an artist’s conception only and are intended as general reference only. All dimensions and sizes are approximate. Prices exclude taxes. E.&O.E.

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Tri-City Real Estate Dec. 10/10  

Your guide to homes for sale in the Tri-City area.

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