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by Gail Kavanagh

Do you want the pleasure of a garden in bloom all year round, even in winter? Look no further than the hellebore, a 3000 year old flowering plant known as the Winter Rose. In Asia, where it originated, the roots were dried and ground to be used as a medicine, but no herbalist would recommend this today as hellebore root is toxic. But as a color feature in the garden, especially in the shady but bare areas beneath trees, hellebore is unsurpassed.

The evergreen shrubs come in several different varieties to suit any purpose, but all share a fairly tolerant nature. Hellebores don’t need much pruning, are happy in places that don’t get much sun and are easy to propagate by dividing the clumps after the flowering season. Just make sure you wear protective gloves in case your skin is sensitive to the roots.

The most common species of hellebore are Helleborus Orientalis and Helleborus Niger. These are also known, respectively, as the Lenten and the Christmas Rose because of their flowering times.

The Lenten Rose, or Helleborus Orientalis, is a compact plant producing large flowers around Easter. The variety of blooms is spectacular; some are soft purple and pink, others are white and green; some are spotted with red; some are striped with other shades. The flowers are good for cutting and look stunning in a vase or flower arrangement. Being such a hardy plant, they will last as cut flowers for a week, especially if you dip the stems in boiling water before arranging them.

The Christmas Rose, or Helleborus Niger, is the one that gives fresh white flowers in the heart of winter, perfect for Christmas decorating. It needs more care than the Lenten Rose, which is a far more hardy plant. But added to these two basic varieties are newer hybrids, which have an even wider variety of color, and a wider range of types suitable for different conditions. One variety, known as Honeyhill Joy, is Helleborus Niger and Corsican Hellebore hybrid, and performs well in cold weather, providing blooms from midwinter into spring.

Traditionally, Hellebores love cool, moist conditions, and need extra care during the summer. For older varieties, plenty of shade is a must, and they need to be kept moist and well mulched to stop the soil around them drying out. But there are newer hybrids, like H.xballardiae which are more tolerant to hot climates. It is always worthwhile to shop around, and discuss with your local plant expert what varieties you can cultivate in your planting zone.
Hellebores can be propagated by seeds as well as clump division, Sometimes you will notice seed pods forming in the center of the flowers. You can catch these seeds by putting a paper bag over the flower, and use them to propagate more plants. However, the plants grown from seed will take several years to flower, so the method of dividing the clumps is better if you don’t want to wait that long.

You don’t have to fuss over hellebores as long as they are happy where they are planted. If they thrive, they are happy, and will flower profusely with little attention required. There will always be a welcome spot of color in the garden, as well as a regular supply of glorious cut flowers for the home.

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DIY Homestead Spa – 10 Steps To Pamper Yourself At Home

A lush towel and robe. Aromatherapy. Soothing music. And some body pampering! Welcome to your DIY homestead spa. It couldn’t be easier! We’ll show you how. Take these 10 simple steps to completely relax and spoil yourself regularly.

DIY Homestead Spa Step 2: Essential Oil Diffuser and/or pretty candles to set the perfect mood.Step 1: Stay Hydrated With Lemon Water

Prepare a small pitcher of lemon water to drink while you soak in the tub (We’re getting to that). Lemon water is rich in vitamin C, hydrates you, aids in digestion, may improve skin tone, and even supports weight loss.

Step 2: Get That Essential Oil Diffuser Workin’

Diffusers are great for transforming the average bathroom into your own personal spa. Keep a handful of essential oils on hand that you find soothing and great for relaxing. Yes, you can use candles instead. Better yet, light some unscented candles even if you a diffuser to create the perfect atmosphere for your homestead spa.

DIY Homestead Spa - Use a soft cloth to remove your face mask.Step 3 : Prepare Your Bath

Not just a plain bath! Step up the spoil factor with a bath bomb, liquid bubble bath, an herbal pouch, etc.

Step 4: Play Some Tunes

I love sound therapy for my homestead spa time. It’s so relaxing! You choose whatever music or sounds give you a sense of calm and help you enjoy the entire experience. Remember, it’s all about you, gorgeous farmgirl!

DIY Homestead Spa Step 7: Soak in a bubby, scented bath.Step 5: Face Mask Time

As the bathtub fills up, deep clean your face and neck with a seaweed mask. This is especially important to do if you’ve been out in the sunlight all day. Put your hair up in a towel or bun and gently smooth on the mask. If you don’t have seaweed mask handy, that’s okay. Use what you’ve got! Clay masks are also fantastic for removing toxins and smoothing the skin. Even a mashed avocado makes a great face mask!

Step 6: Deep Breathing

Take a deep breath in, allowing the abdomen to expand gently. Hold it for a moment or two before exhaling. Repeat 5 times. This will lower your blood pressure, relax your muscles and prepare you for the goodness to come. This is YOUR homestead spa time. Your “me time.”

DIY Homestead Spa Step 3 - Prepare your bath with salts, bombs, or herbal soaks.Step 7: Sink Into Your Luxurious Bath

Remember to relax and take your time. Don’t think about anything but the scents, sounds, and the way your body feels. Exfoliate with a loofah or sugar scrub. Use a bath pillow to lay back and be absolutely still for at least 5 minutes before rinsing. For the best results soak for about 20-25 minutes. Pat yourself dry, but don’t rub all the moisture off! You’ll need it for the next step.

Step 8: Moisturize Your Skin

Immediately choose your favorite body butter fragrance or natural lotion. Your moist skin will drink it in and leave your skin softer than ever. Massage the body butter or lotion in, especially in any areas showing cellulite (Yeah, I’m there with ya). Don’t forget your feet and hands. We farming, gardening gals are on our feet and use our hands a LOT. That’s why we call it a homestead spa. Now wrap yourself up in the warmth of a comfy bath robe.

Step 9: Remember That Face Mask?

Wash off the mask gently with a soft cloth and warm water. Some like to finish with a splash of cold water to close the pores. You do what works best for your skin, but don’t forget to moisturize and use an anti-aging serum.

Step 10: Finish Your Lemon Water

Before you re-enter real life, finish your lemon water! This keeps the cycle of detoxifying in motion, and you’ll be hydrated from the inside out. Slip into bed. Read a book, magazine or write a passage in your journal. What a restorative evening!


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