I always know that spring is on the way by the blooming of the hellebores. On winter days you can find their leaves and flowers peeking up and out of the snow. These perennials are wonderful plants for the shade garden. My favorite Hellebores are H. orientalis (Lenten Rose) and H. niger (Christmas Rose). The Christmas Rose grows in zones 4-8 and has white flowers and shiny dark-green foliage that stays on during the winter for winter color in the garden. It grows from 12 to 18 inches high and blooms during January or February. The Lenten Rose grows in zones 5-9 and it blooms in early spring. It comes in many different sizes and colors with foliage that is oval shaped with a serrated edge. Both plants keep their foliage in my garden during the winter, but by spring the foliage does show winter damage which can be easily pruned away. Hellebores prefer rich soil that stays moist but is well drained. They are slow to establish, but once they do, they can tolerate some dryness. They can be propagated by seed or division in the fall or early spring. Be aware that seedlings may not come true to parents. Hellebores are deer resistant for all you gardeners who have deer problems. If you have not tried growing hellebores, I would suggest both the Christmas Rose and the Lenten Rose for early color to the garden.
The Creative Gardener
The gardening season has finally ended for me and it is time to get back to gardening writing again. I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season!