And now for the fun posting! I’ve compiled some of my personal favourites, as well as some of the new and exciting Helleborus cultivars that are sure to turn heads this coming season at your favourite garden nursery!
Helleborus argutifolius possesses stiff, three lobed, saw tooth edged foliage, with waxy, nodding apple green, chartreuse flowers in dense multiflowering clusters! Mature plant is 70-90cm in height. Zone 7. Caulescent
Helleborus croaticus is simply divine! With it’s pubescent, pedate, lance to elliptical shaped foliage, and diminutive purplish-red flowers surrounded by leafy bracts, there is nothing not to love about this gorgeous plant that is winter hardy between Zones 4-8. Acaulescent
Helleborus foetidus ‘Wester’s Flisk’ screams drama queen from it’s fabulous spidery deep green foliage to the statuesque ruby infused petioles that are topped with fabulously chartreuse apple green flowers! A most voluminous species that survives my Zone 5 winters with minimal winter protection!
Helleborus lividus will always be the plant that all other Helleborus are compared against. Diminutive in stature, with tiny pink, white and green infused outfacing cup-shaped flowers with a prominent display of yellow stamens, it’s staggering beauty continues with its stunning pewter infused foliage that is attached to ruby infused stems! Unfortunately this is perhaps the tenderest of all within the genus and requires protection in Zone 7! A true Zonal Denial All-star! With Canada Blooms just around the corner, I’ve got my eye out for another one or two…..
Helleborus niger is the ubiquitous garden ‘Christmas Rose,’ with its stiff, dark green foliage, topped with pristine white flowers that with age, fade to pink. Bloom time varies between Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Its rugged hardiness, between Zones 3-7 make it a leading contender for being used in new and exciting hybridizations!
Helleborus orientalis is arguably the most colourful and floriferous within the genus! Nodding bells dangle from scapes that are reminiscent of the satin pulls of Victorian window shades. Flowering occurs late January through April in North America. Hardy between zones 4-9
Helleborus thibetanus is my baby! Basal leaves that are deciduous, glabrous and pedate with three primary segments, and outer segments that are divided into 3-4 additional segments, for a total between 7-10, give it a most elegant appearance. Beautiful papery light pink flowers hang downwards like silken skirts. It goes completely dormant by June, losing all of its foliage. Acaulescent. Zone 7-10. In my garden it is covered with shredded pink compost in the winter and returns happily the following Spring! For a true representation, visit the garden of Marion Jarvie!
Helleborus vesicarius wins the award for tenacious obstinacy hands down! It’s beguiling seed pods are the claim to fame that lures unsuspecting gardeners in like honey to the bumble bee! Its soft, heavily dissected foliage sets off the ‘flowers.’
Its mercurial nature demands that it remains dry and protected from heat and humidity throughout its summer dormancy, placing it within a category of its own! Often referred to as the enfant terrible within the genus, it is a guaranteed shoe-in for my MUST HAVE list of 2011!
Helleborus x ballardiae ‘HGC Pink Frost’ is named in honor of esteemed Heleborus breeder and expert Helen Ballard. Its parentage is a combination of H. lividus [yummy fave of mine!] and H. niger – which, in an intoxicating relationship should guarantee an improved hardiness than the tenderhearted H. lividus! Stunning, outward facing cup-shaped flowers are a delicious smoky pink colour and the handsome toothed foliage adds an element of elegance. I am especially enamored of the ruby infused petioles and stems, reminiscent of its H. lividus parentage. Hardiness, still in testing ranges between Z 6-8, but this isn’t stopping the Zonal Denial King from adding it to his repertoire!
Helleborus x hybridus [Winter Jewels Collection] ‘Harlequin Gem’ is a delicious double flowering entry from the breeding wizardry of Marietta O’Byrne’s Oregon nursery. The lighter inside of the flower contrasts fabulously with the darker edged outside edges! Yellowish apricot centres and near purple outer edges…. what could be more stunning! Hardy to Zone 4!
Helleborus x hybridus [Winter Jewel Collection] ‘Jade Tiger’ was a birthday present from my partner-in-crime at the garden nursery last Summer, and I was astounded to have it bloom well into October. Its delightful fabulous chartreuse sepals are delicately outlined in a sumptuous deep purple, as is the reverse as well! Marietta has just inherited a new fan! I can hardly wait to see what she has planned next! Hardy to Zone 4
Helleborus x hybridus [Winter Jewel Collection] ‘Winter Gem’ is yet another of the O’Byrne introductions with fabulous double flowers of a rich apricot yellow, infused and adorned with a rich rose red! A blushing princess if ever there was! 45-60cm, this one is another that is hardy to Zone 4.
Helleborus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’ will forever be one of my favourites as this was the very first Helleborus that I purchased. Stunning pristine, double flowers atop deep green foliage make this a true garden angel. When she is happy, there are up to a dozen billowing handkerchiefs of white that smother the plant. Hardy to Zone 5
H. × belcheri is the new name for the hybrid between H. niger and H. thibetanus, best known under the cultivar name 'Pink Ice', raised by Ashwood Nurseries. Needless to say, this, whose parentage includes my ultimate favourite, H. thibetanus, is definitely on the MUST HAVE LIST for 2011!
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘HGC Winter’s Bliss’ [aka ‘Champion’] is a new introduction from Joseph Heuger of Germany has rosy buds that open to a wondrous, large, outward facing creamy white flowers that develop a wonderful pink blush on the reverse. These are bred from tissue culture ensuring that each remains relatively identical. Height 15cm, hardy to Zone 5
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter Sunshine’ developed in England, is a companion plant to H x e ‘Winter Moonbeam’ that reminds me an awful lot of Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ with its large, outward facing ivory coloured flowers that are often infused with chartreuse and pink tracings.
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter Moonbeam’ is another English introduction that is gaining popularity amongst foliage fetishists like myself! It’s gorgeous glaucous green foliage is dramatically infused with silverish pewter veining, and are attached to the stem with ruby petioles! A stunning beauty with outward facing, flattened blossoms of a creamy white with chartreuse and pink undertones. Smashing! Hardiness is leaning towards Zone 6!
So….. have I convinced to be become a Hellebophile? For those of you who already are, here’s hoping that some of the new introductions reviewed here will entice you to keep adding this perfect perennial to your garden repertoire!
[Many thanks to Thimble Farms for use of their photographs of the newer selections that have yet to reach Teza’s Garden!]