April 21, 2017

Hella Good Looking Hellebores!

Plant It and Forget It: Hellebore Hybrids


Chalk it up to Toronto gardeners having an early case of spring fever as I'm seeing Hellebores popping up in more and more gardens. These Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger) and Lenten Roses (Helleborus orientalis and the many hybrids under H. x hybridus) give us late winter or early spring blooms and look fantastic around daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses and early season tulips. They also don't expect much fussing about from their caregivers either: plant them in soil with rich organic matter, provide average moisture and allow for full to part sun. In many ways, hellebores are like peonies: just plant them, leave them alone and they should be long lasting. In terms of ongoing maintenance, I spend a couple minutes a year cutting off the previous year's old and often diseased leaves in early spring. That's it.

(A great reference for the hellebore care and propagation is Hellebores: Winter Hardy Shade Perennials for the Woodland Garden from Plant Delights Nursery.)




Hellebores and crocuses at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hellebores and crocuses at 
the Toronto Botanical Garden 



I had an afternoon off last week and with April's weather being so nice (with above average temperatures), I visited the Toronto Botanical Garden to see what was flowering. Among the early flowering bulbs and shrubs, of course, were many hellebores in fine form so I went a little crazy with the camera in capturing these beauties.



Stinking Hellebore Helleborus foetidus at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) at 
the Toronto Botanical Garden 

Don't let the common name dissuade you from planting Helleborus foetidus (there are cultivars too.) The leaves do have strong musky (skunky?) scent but if you avoid rubbing them all over your body. it shouldn't be an issue.



Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette and Jetfire daffodils at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x ericsmithii "Pirouette" hellebore 
and "Jetfire" daffodils 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden



Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette and Jetfire daffodils in container at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x ericsmithii "Pirouette" and
 "Jetfire" daffodils make up this spring container 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Helleborus x ericsmithii Pirouette and Jetfire daffodils Toronto Botanical Garden spring container by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x ericsmithii "Pirouette" hellebores 
and "Jetfire" daffodils detail as part of this 
Toronto Botanical Garden spring container



Helleborus x hybridus Anna's Red hellebore spring bloom by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x hybridus "Anna's Red" hellebore 
spring bloom in my backyard

I have a few hellebores in my backyard which received full sun until noon. "Anna's Red" is finally slowly becoming a nice clump after a few years of just sitting. Hellebores are slow growing but if you're patient (almost to the point of negligent) with them, they'll reward you every late winter to early spring.





Helleborus x hybridus Berry Swirl hellebore at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x hybridus "Berry Swirl" hellebore 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 




Helleborus x hybridus Berry Swirl hellebore blooms at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus x hybridus "Berry Swirl" hellebore blooms 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Helleborus × nigersmithii Ivory Prince Hellebore at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus × nigersmithii "Ivory Prince" Hellebore 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 

"Ivory Prince" seems to be the hottest hellebore cultivar on the market for several years now (I didn't think it would be possible to describe hellebores as trendy) as I see it in many flowers shows, garden centres and spring containers in tonier parts of Toronto.



Helleborus × nigersmithii Ivory Prince Hellebore spring flowers by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Helleborus × nigersmithii "Ivory Prince" 
Hellebore spring flowers 



Ivory Prince Hellebore Helleborus × nigersmithii at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Ivory Prince" Hellebore (Helleborus × nigersmithii
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Ivory Prince Hellebore spring blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Ivory Prince" Hellebore spring blooms 



Ivory Prince Hellebore spring flowers by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Ivory Prince" Hellebore spring flowers 



Lenten Rose Hellebore flowers detail at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Lenten Rose/ Hellebore flowers detail 
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Lenten Rose Helleborus orientalis at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Stinking Hellebore Helleborus foetidus at Toronto Botanical Garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus
at the Toronto Botanical Garden 



Toronto Botanical Garden Helleborus hellebore blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Toronto Botanical Garden 
Helleborus (hellebore) blooms 



Toronto Botanical Garden Helleborus x hybridus Berry Swirl hellebore blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Toronto Botanical Garden 
Helleborus x hybridus "Berry Swirl" 
hellebore blooms 




The sepals' veins and overall flower shape above remind me of the human heart!

If you're a hellebore lover like myself, you know how useful these "lower-maintenance" perennials are. If you haven't discovered them yet, well, now you know!