Honoring Hellebores

Hellebore February 6 2011

Observed the Hellebores or “Lenten Roses” in my garden yesterday. Years ago, used to walk past large plantings of hellebores on the Chapel Hill campus without much interest.  What took me so long to realize their value for shady areas and as early and long-blooming plants?

In 2006 when, as a journaling project, I was consciously attempting to photograph my garden each day, the hellebores posed readily.  Frequently these evergreens, whether in bloom or not, were the best looking plants around.

This current garden is mostly sunny, but hellebores are well established in a couple of reasonably shaded areas. No definitive notes exist on the garden’s blooming patterns, but photographs document hellebores blooming in a northern side bed as early as February 24, still looking lovely as late as April 30. After that, no doubt the irises stole my attention that year; this year I will try to notice when the flowers disappear.

Hellebore February 24 2006

Hellebore April 30 2006

Interestingly, the color fades considerable during the bloom span, pink in the beginning and ending a creamy white.

Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Helleborus L.
Species: probably H. orientalis and hybrids (H. × hybridus)

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