Hellebore hybrids are in full bloom by mid-March, drooping their heads delicately toward the wet earth, spreading their fresh, new leaves wide (especially if you've had a chance to cut away the brown, shriveled up old foliage).
In shades from cream and palest yellow, through speckle-faced pink, to deep, dark purple that's as close as a flower comes to black, hellebores are getting more diverse every season. They even come seriously ruffled, like the 'Double Ellen Picotee' (above) earning their moniker as "the rose of winter."
What all hybrids have in common is that they are easy to grow and care for, feature a burst of creamy yellow stamen at their heart, and have handsome evergreen foliage that looks pretty good most months of the year.
Would we notice them much if they bloomed at the same time as lilies and sunflowers? Maybe not. But their great attribute is that hellebores flower during the bleakest months of the year when little else is blooming, and nothing else at all with such a beautiful flower.
A virtue I was thankful for the other evening, when just as it was getting dark I was searching the garden for something to cut to take as a hostess gift to a dinner party. And there were clumps of hellebores blooming like crazy in the cold wind and rain.
Hellebores have a reputation for wilting when cut, but if you split the stems open so they can get a deep drink, they hold up for a few days pretty well. I have lots of little glass jars and other small containers saved to hold nosegays, tight little bouquets, with stems often wrapped in twine or ribbon.So a bouquet of different colored hellebores saved the day, and made for a sweet little hostess gift....
In a year or two hellebores form big enough clumps, thankfully, that you have plenty to cut for yourself as well as to give away....