Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sign of Life

The first hellebore to grace the garden was added just last spring. I wasn't sure what to do with the tattered, windburned foliage that, until only a few days ago, was buried under several inches of snow. Before I had a chance to look it up, Frances at Fairegarden, as if anticipating my question, came to the rescue with her 2009 edition of Cutting the Hellebores.

After performing the operation, this is what I found - the first bud of any kind in the garden, and a delightful early harbinger of spring! I'm so glad I decided to dig out the pruners and uncover this surprise. Thanks for the tips Frances!

I think it's safe to say once you've grown a hellebore, you're hooked. Anything so easy to grow that buds this early and lasts as long as hellebore blooms last should have a place in every shade garden! This Paintbrush Series is the first, but by no means will it be the last. Planted last April, the blooms on this plant lasted until late into the fall. I suspect this might be a bit unusual, as I was under the impression hellebore blooms lasted about three months, not the six months of bloom we had last year.

Hellebores are new to me. Although I've known of them and loved them for years, other plants were constantly being added to 'the list,' and I never managed to get one. It was definitely my loss and I'm glad to have rectified the situation! I'm afraid I may never get enough of these beautiful plants. This spring, Helleborus niger (a/k/a the Christmas Rose,) and Mrs. Betty Ranicar, a double white hellebore will also find homes in the shade of the notorious silver maples.


  1. I worked at a garden center one summer about 8 years ago. We received bare root hellebores. I had the honors of potting them up and immediately bought 4! Since then i have bought about 50 more!!!

    Pine Knot Farms is an excellant source for hellobores by the way.

  2. A sure sign of spring. Frances' post is always a good reminder to me to cut mine back too:)

  3. Hi Flowrgirl, they can be addictive - I can see that already!

    Hi Tina, thanks to you too for the reinforcement! No matter how long I garden, there's always more to learn!

  4. Anonymous3:38 PM

    Frances is a wealth of information isn't she. I love Hellebores and have to add them to my garden for late winter blooms. Very pretty little bud there!

  5. Linda,

    Congrats and welcome to hellebore love! They are quite wonderful plants and the evergreen helps in a garden without snow cover! Besides their bloom in late winter~~~ they make babies like crazy if you let the flower go to seed! Then you can have them all over the garden ~~ cost free! The seedlings are practically indestructible, too.


  6. Anonymous4:33 PM

    Hi Linda, thanks for the good write up! :-) Your hellebore is a beauty and that white double sounds delicious! New this year is the H. niger from the grocer's, alive and well. It seems smaller than the H. orientalis, but blooms earlier? We get several good months of bloom out of them, such a wonderful plant. I will have to check out Pine Know Farms.

  7. Anonymous4:34 PM

    Pine Knot.

  8. Linda .. hi there girl ! thanks for stopping at my blog (I got the tripod out along with the manual and took pictures of them .. I know .. too silly but it is so awful out there with all this rain, I think I am cabin crazy again !) .. I have only one hellebore and I know I need more ! The one I have is amazing .. in our hot humid weather during the summer when the flowers of this plant are long gone, the foliage is beautiful still ! I will be hunting hellebore this coming season for sure. Your little beauty is wonderful to see : )

  9. I have caught the bug, too, Linda! After seeing them pictured on so many blogs last spring,I put them on my "wish list" and a few weeks ago finally got around to ordering some. I don't know if they'll bloom this first spring, but I'm anxious to see.

    It's been great being able to poke around in the garden a little in this weather, isn't it?

  10. It's clear to me now that I've been entirely remiss in not including hellebores in my garden. It's one of those plants I've been "meaning" to add since at least 2000, and, um, it's high time!! I'm going to buy some at the botanical garden's spring sale. (So you know I'm serious if I'm thinking about spending money--har!)

  11. Anonymous8:59 PM

    I don't have a single one and it's going to be a few years before I do. Looks like your haircut did the job and it looks grand.

  12. Aren't they delightful plants? I have only a few because they're expensive around here. I'll need to take another look on the reproduction end because I haven't noticed any offspring. Your Hellebore is a lovely color!

  13. You are so right, Hellebores are addictive. I've bought a few more last spring and hopefully they are going to flower for me this year for the very first time.

  14. Hi Racquel, yes she is! That's one of the great things about blogging. There's always more to learn.

    Too bad the foliage is chewed up! I wonder what's been at it in our cold weather.

    Thanks Gail! I hope I get lots of babies. I don't seem to get much self-seeding around here, but I hope to see more as the garden matures.

    Hi Frances, well, thank YOU! I really appreciated the tips - very timely! I've often found garden blogging friends have just the information I need, just when I need it - such a wealth of information!

    How cool to find a hellebore in the grocery store! I wish we had a grocery like that around here.

    Good morning Joy, I need to get in the habit of taking the tripod out too. It's disappointing when otherwise good shots come out blurry.

    Hellebores seem to be becoming more readily available around here in recent years. I was pleased to find the one I have right now at the nursery where I work. They'd never grown them before. They were very popular last year though, and they'll have more varieties this year.

    I'll also be checking out Pine Knot Farms as flowrgirl suggested.

    Hi Rose, it seems more and more gardeners are being bitten by the hellebore bug! Now that I've finally gotten one, I wonder what took me so long!

    I hear you Monica! Hellebores have been on the list for years here too. Hopefully you can find what you're looking for at a good price. There are so many varieties of them, and more all the time.

    Hi Anna, I know what you mean! Starting from scratch in a brand new garden, especially on a budget, it takes many years to even come close to having the variety of plants most of us seem to wish for.

    Good morning Melanthia, I think the cost of them was one thing that made me pause. Prices do seem to be coming down on them recently though, and they seem to be more readily available as they gain popularity.

    I hope you get some babies!

    Hi Yolanda, maybe that's why it took me so long to get one - I must have known I wouldn't be able to stop at just one!

    I hope you get lots of blooms on your new hellebores. I'm looking forward to seeing them!

  15. Hi Linda, you should have seen the mass planting of hellebores at the garden show I attended yesterday...beautiful! I did not buy any but there were many takers..wished they were a little more affordable. My three clumps are still "sleeping", or maybe just hiding under all the leaves..should go look! Your bud is a pretty shade of purple.

  16. I just discovered hellebores at my sister's yard, which she just moved into a year or 2 ago. I love hers, but she says she can't dig any up for me, because they don't spread like other plants.

    It's funny how many people are talking about hellebores, now, and they are even featured on my calender this month! I hope to find some at the plant sales I go to in the spring.

    Are you expecting our snow that's coming down in Nebraska to come to your area? It's been snowing all day here. Winter isn't finished with us!

  17. I have never heard of the things until Frances and Tina with their blogging about them! I must look for some in our area but afraid it may be too warm for them in GA....

  18. Hi Lynn, welcome, and thanks for visiting! I hope you'll soon find some buds emerging under the foliage on yours!

    I loved your photos from the garden show! Sounds like you had a wonderful day.

    Good morning Sue, Hellebores do seem to be growing in their appeal and popularity. They're such great plants it's easy to understand why.

    We did get a light dusting of snow overnight, and most of it will probably melt with expected temps above freezing. So far though, February has been much nicer than January!

    Hi Skeeter, I hadn't seen them in the nurseries around here until just last year, but judging by the demand for them where I work, we'll be seeing more and more of them here locally.

    I think most of them are hardy to zones 8 and 9. I'm not sure how happy they are in warmer climates, but so far they do seem to thrive here. I did a quick google search, and it looks like there are some varieties that settle in well in Georgia if they get enough shade.

  19. Your H. orientalis is way ahead of mine! It even looks farther along than my H. niger. I think you're really going to like growing Hellebores.

  20. Glad you are getting some "spring" there. We have Hellebores at the house we rent in Chapel Hill, NC, I was there last week and they were in full bloom.

  21. Anonymous8:46 PM

    Have you had any issues with rabbits or squirrels bugging the hellebore? My tulips are completely gone but nobody bugs the daffodils. I've always like hellebores but was afraid the critters would eat them.


  22. Hi Julia, so far no problems with rabbits or squirrels bugging them. They don't seem to like thick, leathery foliage in my garden, and they haven't bothered the buds or blooms either. They go after a lot of stuff in my garden, especially fresh new growth, but haven't touched the hellebore, not even tender new growth. I haven't heard of them bothering hellebores in other gardens either. Give one a try!


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