We have a fine crop of Helleborus orientalis in one-gallon
cans. They won’t bloom much this year, so give up worrying
about what color flowers you are going to get and plant
several of them. They are a lovely mix of many shades of
cream, white, rose, and purple. They all look good, especially
together, and the surprise will be pleasant for you. The colors
are subtle enough to complement any planting design.
Their common name Lenten Rose comes from Lent, the start of
their most profuse bloom season: late March and early April.
In our climate they are evergreen. They will bloom in the
winter, too. The flowers are 2”-3” wide, and elegant in an Art
Nouveau sort of way. They look a bit more like their cousins
the buttercups then like roses. The intricate patterns and
structures inside the flowers can be appreciated if you plant
them atop a retaining wall or on a hillside.
Hellebores are an excellent choice for shady woodland
gardens. They love moist, humus-rich soil and undisturbed leaf
litter. The foliage is glossy dark green. Its bold texture looks
good mixed with ferns, Heucheras and Ajuga. All parts of
Helleborus orientalis are poisonous to humans and pets. Deer
usually do not eat Hellebores. They will grow slowly to about
1 ½’ x 1’.