Mother Nature is generous with her gifts and to those who know Hellebores, they will certainly agree. Gardeners who are winter weary appreciate these hardy evergreen perennials that start to bloom in later winter, very early spring, even before the daffodils! Hellebores, are also known as lenten rose as they bloom around the season of Christian lent and are the most elegant harbinger that a season of rebirth and renewal is upon us.
So where to site and how to grow these jewels of the early spring garden…
For those of you who have dry shade , hellebores are a hardy solution. A woodland garden is the perfect environment for growing, and they will thrive when getting established in moist, well draining soil. If you have poor drainage , your hellebores will suffer and may not even winter that well as they are sensitive to poor drainage. However once established, under a shade tree canopy where many perennials simply cannot compete, hellebores will shine! When planting your helleborus, don’t plant too deep, because just like a peony , who hate to be planted deeply, their bloom production will be inhibited. Hellebores would certainly fall under the category of perennials that “sleep ” in their first year( with minimal growth as they establish their roots), “creep” in their second year with improved top growth , and then “LEAP” in their third year with profuse blooming.
Hellebores will bloom for up to 6 weeks in the starkest time of the year, and it is recommended that you trim the leaves to the ground in late winter so that you provide maximum impact to the flowers. They are deer and rabbit resistant and in the heat of the summer do expect them to enter into a non- active state , their superb show already long since past.
Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ is a cultivar that has outward facing green to champagne blooms that is compact and very floriferous . Newer hybrids such as the Wedding Party series boast burgundy blooms, speckled blooms and blooms that have double florets.
Consider building on your shade woodland garden, by planting your hellebores with bleeding heart, whose flowering show will follow , vibrant heuchera (coral bells) and variegated Carex.
We have hellebores in stock at the greenhouse now, but don’t wait too long, because just as the warm spring sun does to the late winter snow, they will be Gone!