Home Page Image

In his garden every man may be his own artist without apology or explanation.

~ Louise Beebe Wilder ~

Helleborus for all Seasons

From flower to flower, tree to tree; from our garden to your garden, we wish you a wonderful holiday season. May it be filled with full stockings and spent in the company of family and friends.

Most of the plants are entering their ratty-look stage. I decided to not cut them back this year. No, not because of sheer laziness. Some new research suggests that plants will overwinter better when left to their own devices. The usual December garden haircut will be limited to taking cuttings and removing hellebore foliage.

Talking about hellebore or lenten roses, to me, they are plants no garden should be without. Happy in most any environment and extremely drought tolerant, they bring color and interest even before the first spring bulbs start to peek out..


One may never know whether the Lenten roses we see today are the same type of plants referred to in ancient greek and roman literature. It is reported that Hippocrates used hellebore to treat paralysis and insanity, Alexander the Great died from an overdose of hellebore and allegedly, Melampus of Pylos in Greek mythology saved the King of Argos' daughters from madness by using helleborus extract. . Through the centuries, hellebore have been cultivated in Asia and Europe and finally, more of them are finding their way into American gardens.

No longer reserved primarily for botanical gardens and plant collectors, the single, double, red, pink, yellow, dark blue and near black flowers in late winter and very early spring can be grown and enjoyed by most anyone.


While lenten roses are shade tolerant, they are not shade plants. Hellebore will perform their best in a location with morning sun and afternoon shade in a soil rich with humus and consistent moisture. Lenten roses will still be the stars of the spring garden even if drought and hot temperatures have forced them into dormancy the previous summer. They prefer cold soil when the days are short and will transplant best when planted between October and March.
Rarely needing division and relatively disease resistant, most commonly, the plants are propagated by seeds. Their greatest drawback is the long time, from 4 to 5 years, that it takes to turn a seed into a blooming plant.
To look their best, a good haircut in late winter will make the flowers really stand out and new leaves will start to emerge as the flowers fade in early spring. This winter, my clippers are getting their workout on the hellebore foliage only.


December in the Garden:

Feed the Birds!
Start Seeds:
Keep your houseplants hydrated: