Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Love Those Hellebores!

Daffodils and Crocus and reticulated Iris seem to get all the glory this time of year. And for good reason! Those of us that are hungry for color have our appetites satiated by these old-time spring favorites. Even those that aren't into gardening all that much love them and know what they are. But there are others that put on a fabulous show this time of year, in a slightly understated way.

Today, when I was at work, my co-worker Julie asked me about a new plant that she'd heard about recently. She wondered if I was familiar with it. "Helleborgs, I think they're called," she said.

Ah...Hellebores. Yes, I know them and love them.
Julie, this is for you.

My mom was the first to introduce me to these unusual beauties. I think we were at the 2005 Cleveland Flower Show and there were some for sale. "Buy this," she said. I did, and several times after that, whenever I found them at a reasonable price. You see, Hellebores used to be quite expensive, but they have come down in price, just like orchids and Clivias.

If you've got a semi-shady spot, a Hellebore or two might be just the thing. Often, they're one of the first blooms of spring, and in some places, they'll even bloom in late winter. Mine were covered by a couple of feet of snow several times this winter and the foliage ended up being pretty ragged. When I noticed new shoots were coming up out of the ground, I simply cut the damaged foliage out. New shoots continue to emerge alongside the big buds and open flowers.

Though they usually take a couple of years to get settled in,
they are pretty easy to care for. A wise person once told me to always add lots of compost to the hole when you plant them, continue to dress them with it each summer, and they'll reward you by spreading and with an increased number of blooms.

Last year, I purchased a 'Red Lady' and it's blooming now, along with the others. I'm not sure what the other ones are, although I do remember buying some from Park's when they had a big sale on them a couple summers ago, that were labeled 'Pine Knot Strain.' 'Ivory Prince' was purchased about a month ago and is in the basement greenhouse, awaiting a bit warmer weather for planting outside.

Blooming now, in the trellis garden:

Helleborus sp.

Zone: 4-8
Height: 12-18 inches
Sun: Shade to Part Shade
Water: Average. Do not overwater.
Bloom time: Late winter/Early spring


bg_garden said...

ohhh.... that burgendy Helleborus is breathtaking. I took some photos of some yesterday at a wonderful greenhouse up in Michigan but I didn't purchase one. I just don't know where I would put it. Would you put yours in with Hosta's? I like to layer my beds so that when one thing dies back the other is starting to bloom.

Happy Spring to you!

Kylee Baumle said...

The detail in the center of their blooms is just fascinating to me. For example, in the last photo, those TUBES!

They like the same conditions as hostas, so you certainly could plant them with them. For some reason, I can't see them with hostas, but can't explain why. They might look fine with them though.

Connie said...

Oh, poor me...I have no Hellebores. :-( Will have to try and remedy that....I have seen so many beautiful ones on garden blogs this year.

joey said...

A+ stunning photos, Kylee. Hum ... I sometimes wonder our mutual fondness for (open wide) macro shots :) Happy Easter!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

They are just great plants. Mine survived several different snows too, and you'd never know it. I love the colors of yours. The one in your trellis garden has such nice coloring. I found some 'Ivory Prince' at Home Depot on clearance for $5 a gallon a week or so ago. It's nice that some are more affordable, although some still are fairly pricey. I think they are worth it though.

Kylee Baumle said...

Connie ~ Yes, you must get some! They'll reseed, too, if you let them.

Joey ~ I LOVE macro photography, which is pretty evident from my blog. Sometimes I have to tell myself to take more photos from a distance, because I'm sure not everyone wants to see a flower's innards quite as often as I do. LOL.

Catherine ~ Ooh! Good deal on the clearance, especially this time of year! Although they probably had them on clearance because for a nursery hellebore at this time of the year, it's probably past its prime. I'm not wild about 'Ivory Prince's color, but the foliage is very pretty, I think, too. I like the ones that have heavy veining and "serrated" edges.
I have a variegated one ('Pacific Frost' I think it's called), but it has struggled for the last couple of years. I think I'll relocate it where it will get some sun. It's in total shade. The others are in partial shade.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

My hellebores are blooming so well this year. The best yet. I wish I had more. If I run into the red ones I am definitely going to buy them. Yours are so pretty.

JulenaJo said...

Gorgeous! I have these on my "need to have" list now. The reddish ones are especially pleasing. Thanks for sharing!

JulenaJo said...

Gorgeous! I have these on my "need to have" list now. The reddish ones are especially pleasing. Thanks for sharing!

Nutty Gnome said...

I love Hellebores and they self-set very easily in my garden - but all except one are the very pale green flowered variety. The one coloured one is almost chocolate brown and stunning!

I'm keeping my eyes open for some bargain ones at the garden centre over Easter - because that's when they seem to sell them off round here! Wish me luck!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

The Hellebore in your trellis garden is so beautiful! I love that coloration. My mystery Hellebores look a lot like your white one. I have to disagree with you about "subtle." Some of these Hellebores are anything but.

Barbee' said...

Nice collection. I have a few, but only two varieties have survived my neglect.

Kerri said...

Kylee, your hellebores have done well and are looking glorious! I need to stop pussyfooting around and do some serious searching for them around here. So far I've found them hard to come by. I may have to resort to buying them online, but I do like to hold plants in my hand and make sure they're heathly (and a decent size) before I buy them.
Your macro and other shots are wonderful. I can see you crouched (or laying) down on the cold ground for these beauties :)
We have sunshine today after several days of cold winds and snow flurries. What a blessed relief!

Brenda Pruitt said...

I have my very first one, thanks to you bloggers who told me about their loveliness!

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Unknown said...

Awesome hellebores, Kylee! What a rainbow of beautiful blossoms. Mine are small but opening. Spring is truly here. Today, anyway.

Aiyana said...

The hellebores are beautiful, but we're in zone 9b. They'll be just another impossibility for me!

EAL said...

This reminds to photograph my mauve hellebores, though why I need a reminder I don't know. It's not like there is all that much more in bloom. Hellebores were one of the first plants I bought when I started gardening. I saw them in a catalog and thought they looked cool, and now I'm so glad I did. They are perfect for our conditions here.

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