Saturday, 18 August 2012

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger also known as Christmas Rose, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

This is one of my favourite Hellebores although this is the first time I have done a drawing of it.  Previous drawings I have shown in this genus were Helleborus orientalis or Lenten Rose (see May 26, 2009) and one of the hybrids called Raspberry Mousse (see December 27, 2011). 
Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose), shown above, Is one of the most common hellebore species in gardens around the world, It produces large white flowers that turn pink or deep pink-salmon as they age.

H. niger often grows on slopes and at high altitudes. Basically an alpine plant, it may be covered in snow for months. Wild plants typically bloom after the snow melts in spring, thus avoiding long periods of continual frost. In its natural habitat it enjoys well-drained conditions in limestone soil but with ample moisture during spring. Such conditions partly explain why H. niger looks so wonderful in the wild but can at times be less than magnificent in the garden. Still, it is a worthy garden plant and is one of the showiest of all hellebores.

Its leaves often persist well into winter before browning and giving way to the new year's flower stalks and foliage. Leaves are dark green, sometimes with bluish tones and have a thick, leathery appearance. In the wild or in conditions where the leaves are protected by snow cover, the over-wintering leaves may remain in pristine condition even during flowering. H. niger produces only basal leaves, and the relatively bare flower stalks are not usually generous with their flowers, often producing only one per stalk but sometimes two.

Helleborus niger growing wild
Above is an example of this plant making an early appearance in the springtime -- growing on what appears to be a limestone hillside with good drainage but ample moisture which enables the plants to grow quickly and healthily.  Even though the common name for this plant is "Christmas Rose", it does not necessarily bloom during the Christmas Season. Depending on climate and genes, plants may bloom any time from November to June.



 Now, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of the most recent photos of the main man in my life!  Braden continues to be as wonderful as ever and is daily growing into a gentleman who is obviously going to be one of the leading lights of his age!  This is just my unbiased opinion, of course!!

Seriously, his parents, especially his mother, are so good to me as they continue to share photos and bits of news frequently. So, even though I can't see Braden in person very often, I do feel as though I am sharing in the joy of his growth and development. 

Here we see "Dad's little champ" taking a rest break.  It is obvious that his is still
thinking about and solving the world's problems even while sleeping.  He is indeed The Thinker!

This is such a sweet photo -- looking at his mother as she helps him get ready to
accompany her as she runs errands.  Such a sweet face!

Here we see him in his special seat all ready to go.  "Come on, mom, let's hit the road!"

I put the "is" in as I think it makes it funnier than the attempt at "pidgin English".



Suki, feeling a bit chilled and
all wrapped up in my sweater.
These past few days, Suki has just been listening to me and watching me a lot more than usual.  She has heard me speaking her name frequently while on the telephone and this, I think, makes her a bit nervous -- she worries that I may be calling the vet.

Actually, the vet was one of the people involved in all the business I have been doing regarding Suki, but not because Suki needs a visit from the vet.  No, I am presently involved in an appeal to the insurance company, the carrier of the pet insurance I have.  Let me explain...

When I first brought Suki home, it was obvious that she had some sort of  intestinal problem as she was constantly having to use the litter box due to diarrhea.  The vet came to see her right away and after an exam and various questions, she decided that she most likely had a particular parasite that she had picked up at the Human Society.  We began the treatment for this and within a reasonable amount of time, Suki began to get better and better.  By the time the medication was finished, she appeared to be free of the parasite.

Several months later, she suddenly started having diarrhea again and although it was different from before, I was worried that perhaps the parasite had been lying low and had now decided to re-surface.  The vet came and listened to my concerns and decided that perhaps we should try the treatment for the parasite again; however, as she was finishing up her exam, she happened to ask me if I was feeding Suki any treats.  When I said, "yes, occasionally", she wanted to know what type.  When I told her, she commented that that particular treat actually caused some cats to experience diarrhea.  After she left, I decided to try stopping the treats first before beginning the medication.  After a few days of no treats, the diarrhea stopped and has never returned.

When I submitted the claim for this visit; however, I got a letter back saying that there was now an exclusion on Suki's policy saying that the company would not cover problems in the intestinal area as she had come to me with a pre-disposition, a weakness, for intestinal problems. 

As I begin to think about this, I realized that their reasoning did not make any sense as Suki had come to me with a parasite.  When I enquired, I was told that the second vet visit within the first year caused the company to conclude that Suki had come to me with a permanent problem in this area and that they would not cover such pre-existing conditions.  So, I set about appealing this and pointing out that Suki had only had a parasite and that the second bout of diarrhea was nothing but a reaction to a particular kind of cat treat.

I had to submit my account of things and then get the vet to submit her records of these events and so now we are waiting to see what they decide.  I am hopeful that common sense will prevail -- although I may be being somewhat optimistic!  I will let you know what happens.

Meanwhile, Suki is quite well and as sassy as ever.  I, too, am doing quite well and am probably as sassy as ever.  In fact, my dear friend, Charles, calls me Sassy Sallie!  So, I guess you could say that both Sassy Suki and Sassy Sallie are doing well..!  I think I had better stop this before I someone starts calling me Silly Sallie, a name I was often called in grade school by mean boys!

At any rate, I pray that God will bless all of you who read this blog posting by allowing you to find something of God's beauty and joy in the words and pictures I have presented.

And may our hearts be filled with the peace and love which come to us from God.  Deus dona nobis pacem

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