Hellebores are Here Again

On this first day of spring a cold wind blows through the garden and snow flurries hold onto a season best forgotten.  And still the Snowdrop and the Hellebore push forth to defy the cold.

 

While the Snowdrop's flower season will be cut short the Hellebore blooms on through May, holding onto its spent sepals which are leaves that look like flowers.  Helleborus is a genus containing 20+ varieties and even more hybrids. My favorites have always been Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten Rose, called this because it flowers during the season of lent. Helleborus orientalis loves to hybridize with other species creating a mixture of “flower” colors ranging from off-whites and pale greens to pinks and maroons. Today’s new hybrids and strains of Hellebores offer beautiful variants within and without the color range, often with interesting speckled faces. The leaves are a glossy dark green standing 12 – 18 inches tall all summer into winter. It is a long lived perennial hardy in zones 3 – 10, prefers shade and is very deer resistant. My Hellebores are planted in a garden bed under a Witchhazel that flowers yellow January through March. Chartreuse Hosta and Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’ keep this shady bed low maintenance and vibrant the rest of the year. Locate your early flowering perennials and shrubs where you can enjoy them all season without walking across the wet garden. Mine are next to the driveway, just outside my kitchen window.

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