Each year members of the PPA vote for an outstanding perennial. In 2005, this wonderful plant was the winner!
Imagine. . . a beautiful flower blooming in the cold and snow of January and February! That would be the hellebores. These versatile perennials can be used as specimen plants, massed for a ground cover, or naturalized in a woodland garden. Their magnificent shiny, dark green foliage is evergreen in most zones and is attractive year-round. The leathery leaves are deeply divided and form a neat rounded mound that adds texture as well as beauty to the shade garden. As an added PLUS, they are very deer resistant and make a great ground cover that the deer just won't touch!
And the flowers. . . unique nodding blossoms in shades of greenish white to deep maroon appear as early as late January. These blooms are the finest and most long-lasting of any winter flower, persisting for 2-3 months! What a wonderful treat in the midst of an otherwise dreary winter!
Helleborus are particularly well suited for planting under tall evergreen shrubs like Rhododendron or in a mixed woodland border in combination with other shade loving perennials such as ferns, Hosta, Epimedium, and Pulmonaria. They also make attractive plantings along woodland paths or planted in the rich, moist soil near a pond or other water feature.
Helleborus are tough, hardy, and easy to grow. They perform best in well-drained, humus-rich soil in heavy to light shade. Established clumps are relatively drought tolerant and very deer resistant.
Another great Helleborus species is Helleborus foetidus which has finely cut foliage and bears airy clusters of apple-green bell-shaped flowers edged with maroon. This is one of the longest blooming of all the Hellebores with its unique flowers appearing as early as December!