While I’m not quite ready to stick my shovel in the sodden ground, I’m definitely hot to trot when it comes to gathering inspiration and – well, okay – buying plants. Especially hellebores. In fact, this is the time to shop for the hellebore of your dreams, since they are just coming into flower now (Feb and March). If you are buying seed-grown plants – and many are seed-grown and therefore all different from one another – it’s crucial to see the flowers when you buy them.

Here are two springy, inspiring events taking place this weekend. And there will be a veritable fiesta of hellebores available at both nurseries.

WHAT: Dancing Oaks Nursery’s Open Weekend for Hellebores, Witch Hazels and Early Bulbs
WHEN: Saturday February 5th 9-5 and Sunday February 6th 10-4
WHERE: Dancing Oaks Nursery – Dancing Oaks Nursery, 17900 Priem Rd, Monmouth, OR 97361 Tel: 503-838-6058

The Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus) are in full swing, a little early this year, in fact. Witch hazels are in full flower and snowdrops are sparkling out in Monmouth. It’s a fantastic time of the year to take a drive out through fields and past stands of picturesque Oregon oaks, stopping at a winery or two on the way. Warming tea and snacks will be on offer to enjoy while wandering through warm, flower-scented hoop houses and meandering garden beds.

Dancing Oaks’ regular hours – Tues to Sat 9 to 5 and Sun 10 to 4 – begin in March, but call them at 503-838-6058 to make a visit (other than the open house) before then.

WHAT: Spring Garden Book Soiree & Open House
WHEN: Sunday February 6 starting at 1 pm
WHERE: Garden Fever Nursery, 3433 NE 24TH AVE. ~ on NE 24th, just south of Fremont Tel: 503-287-3200

Featured speakers:

1 pm: Tom Fischer, Editor in Chief at Timber Press and superb blog-writer and author of PERENNIAL COMPANIONS:100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season and THE GARDENER’S COLOR PALETTE: Paint Your Garden with 100 Extraordinary Flower Choices. Tom will be presenting Timber Press’s new gardening titles for 2011 (including Amy’s and my terrarium book!). Listen to his descriptions and browse through a new year’s worth of gardening titles.

1:30 pm – David George Gordon, author of THE SECRET WORLD OF SLUGS & SNAILS: Life in the Very Slow Lane. Here’s David’s blurb:

"David is a professional science writer with a total of 18 books in print and has spoken at the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences. He takes his slugs seriously, but not too seriously. He has also appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, To Tell the Truth and The View."

He will be speaking about his latest book and discussing how to tell the good, the bad, the ugly and the NW native slugs from the "invaders".