Plants, like people, enter our lives in stages. Some are with us seemingly from the beginning. For me, Peonies, Roses, Pansies, and Lilacs are intertwined with memories of caring relatives who watched over me as a child.
Other plants appear at later stages and become like dear friends so quickly that we find it hard to believe we didn’t know them earlier. The Hellebore (Helleborus L.) is such a plant for me.
I can’t even explain exactly what attracts me to Hellebores. Many factors add to the allure, including that:
- Rabbits don’t like Hellebores (see previous post, A story about Peter Rabbit);
- They bloom in early spring—in my garden, just after the Crocuses;
- They’re perennials that grow well in a shady (but not too shady) garden; and
- They’re very hardy and easy-care plants that established quickly.
But I think the main reason Hellebores are a personal favorite is just because of the unique form and color of the plants themselves. New growth emerges from the center of the previous year’s arching foliage, which can be cut back as the new plants unfurl. The buds are fascinating even before the flowers fully bloom—pointing downward from the tops of their stems.
The flowers vary in color (purple, red, near black, white, green, pink, and yellow) and pattern (solid, speckled, variegated). As the flowers age, many become more green-tinged.
I found a spot for my Hellebores that appears to suit them perfectly—at the base of a stone wall, interplanted with Hostas, Roses, Lily-of-the-Valley, and Daffodils. The Daffodils and Hellebores take center stage first, followed by Lily-of-the-Valley, and then Roses and Hostas. And the foliage of these plants is complementary.
Several fellow garden bloggers have recently posted excellent photos and information about Hellebores. Among them:
- Bay Area Tendrils: Radiant in Winter: Hellebore Bloom 2011;
: An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores; and Shade Gardens
- Plantaliscious: Wordless Wednesday: Emergence.
Obviously, Hellebores aren’t currently blooming in my
Wisconsin garden, which is covered with two feet of snow. But they are emerging quite readily throughout the northern hemisphere, and will continue to do so from south to north, and from now until late May.
I can't wait to see these new "old friends" again!