Along with fragrant Winter Daphnes and crocuses, Hellebores are one of the main harbingers of Spring in Seattle gardens. Many gardeners are crazy about Hellebores, valuing the pastel shades of their flowers, which look like they were painted on with water colors. A naturally bashful plant, the Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis,) which is not at actually a rose, points its flowers downward, as if too modest to aim them at your eye. Many hybrids of the Oriental Hellebore cover a gamut of white, chartreuse, pale pink and rose pink shades. Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb’s favorite Hellebore, though, is the Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius.) This is a work-horse of a flowering shrub: It blooms in late February and holds its flowers in view well into the summer months. Many people would discount it for having a light-green flower, but when it first blooms, that burst of light green is so lively and iridescent that it shouts, “spring is here!” Framed by the darker leaves, the flowers just pop out at you. And this plant also has heft: it’s great for filling spaces where you need something that will get about three feet tall.
Helleborus orientalis Hybrids – Lenten Rose
Helleborus argutifolius – Corsican Hellebore
Corsican Hellebore, flower detail