Promise of a New Year
At just about the time I have given up on life and the land, the Hellebores begin to perform. How does such a broad-leaved species not wither in the deep freeze? Instead, the foliage takes on new life and sends out blooms! No wonder it is called a Lenten Rose. My faith in a returning spring is renewed.
If you are lucky enough to have a few Hellebores plants, save the seeds to make even more next year. Because new plants can be easily grown from seed, you need to be prepared for variations in the results, from deep purple to almost white. More is better, because you will want to use the flowers in arrangements. The purple-tinged chartreus blooms go with every color scheme. The flowers are long-lasting and substantial in size and turgidity. The weight of the blooms causes them to nod on their stems.
The blooms hide from you, hovering under the foliage. It is such a nice surprise to discover them each January or February! The foliage is evergreen in the south, staying under two feet tall.
There are a lot of hybrids that offer reliable color choices.
Because Hellebores doesn’t need to be divided, stays evergreen, blooms when little else is blooming, is deer-resistant, remains low-growing, and holds flowers for a long time, it makes a wonderful ground cover for landscape projects. It likes partial shade. Because Hellebores doesn’t have showy foliage, takes a while to grow into a thick mound, and likes moist, organic soil, it lacks the respect it deserves in the landscape industry. Nobody wants to wait for anything these days! If you have the patience to be a Hellebores admirer, you will be richly rewarded.