An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Plant breeders have been hard at work for years trying to get hybrid hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus) to submit to tissue culture.  For a long time the hellebores were winning, and I was quietly cheering from the sidelines.  But it seems even the mighty hybrid hellebore, the toughest plant I know, was not a match for modern technology.  You can now purchase tissue cultured hellebores that all look the same.  But my question is: why would you want to?

You have to realize that I am a person who treasures diversity even with its inherent risks of dissatisfaction and unpredictability.  I still shop at my local hardware store with its wood floors and oily smells.  I have a tab, the people there know me, the people there know hardware.  They might not have what I want—I can take that risk.  You couldn’t get me to go to a Home Depot if my life depended on it.

When I travel, I try to stay at a local B&B.  I introduce myself to the owners, I appreciate their eclectic decorating schemes, I eat their funky breakfasts.  They know the local area, they have eaten in the restaurants, they can give directions.  I stayed at a chain recently where the very nice desk clerk was not aware that there was a gas station two doors down.

So I am a person who doesn’t treasure predictability, as in sameness, the way most people seem to.

When it comes to hybrid hellebores, I don’t understand the most common concern expressed by gardeners: if the hellbore is grown from seed you can’t be 100% sure what the flowers will look like unless it’s in bloom.  There is an element of risk involved in the purchase.  Tissue culture of hellebores was developed to eliminate this unacceptable risk.

But to me that is the magic of hybrid hellebores: each plant is a unique individual, with the potential for inheriting genetic material from any of the possible 9 or more species that could be its parents.  It’s like having a baby, you don’t know and you can’t control who he or she will be because that is determined by generations of intertwining DNA.  I am assuming that even in the predictability driven US, where we invented the almighty chain store, we still would rather roll the dice than clone the cute little baby next door.  I could be mistaken.

Don’t get me wrong, the poster child for tissue-cultured hybrid hellebores ‘Kingston Cardinal’ with its large double raspberry flowers is gorgeous.  I would grow it.  But here is its main marketing mantra: Tissue cultured so every plant is identical.  Every one on your block can have the exact same plant right next to their ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum and ‘Goldsturm’ rudbeckia.   I like ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Goldsturm’ (I have them in my garden), but hybrid hellebores offer so much more than that: the diversity of life in a beautiful flower.  And tissue culture has the potential to destroy that magic just like we are losing the genetic magnificence of apples, and chickens, and tomatoes.

Here is my ode to seed strain hybrid hellebores:

photo Carol Lim

photo Carol Lim

photo Carol Lim

Please let me know in a comment which hellebore is your favorite.

Carolyn

This is part of a series of articles on hellebores, one of the specialties of my nursery.  Here are links to the other articles:

Part One        Hellebores for Fall

Part Two       An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores

Part Three   Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore

Part Four      Dividing Hybrid Hellebores

Part Five       The Sex Lives of Hellebores

Part Six          Double Hellebores

Part Seven   Cutting Back Hellebores

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

In my post I Need Your Help, I asked readers to send cards to the daughter of Kartik who was the subject of my post New Year’s Resolution to Edit the Garden.  I would still appreciate your help with this appeal.  Tara is home from the hospital, which is good news, but being confined to home and suffering daily intrusive medical procedures has left her lonely and depressed.  The cards she has received from all of you are a major bright spot in her day, and your good wishes and prayers are an inspiration to Kartik.  If you still wish to mail a card, they would love to receive it (Tara Patel, 2216 Oakwyn Road, Lafayette Hill, PA  19444, USA).  Thanks.

The view from here:


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89 Responses to “An Ode to Seed Strain Hellebores”

  1. HEAR HEAR! For all the apples, chickens, hellebores, and unique places to visit!

    I like that double black one (is there some optical illusion with your hand in that photo or is it really monstrously huge)?! All of them are beautiful, I can’t wait for ours to start blooming now.

  2. Anne Randall Says:

    I love them all- but the first one might be my favorite for its purity. The anemone centered one is unique. Thanks, Anne Randall Great photos. I have hundreds of seedlings that I need to plant out to discover their flowers.

  3. Louise Thompson Says:

    I think the green one is my favorite because I have a thing for green, or almost-green, flowers. But they’re all gorgeous, and I’m hoping to attend your first open house just because you’ll be featuring hellebores. I assume you’ll be selling the variable ones? I was hoping to attend one of your hellebore workshops at the Morris Arb., but it turned out I have a conflict both days. Louise

    • Louise, I have a thing for green flowers too. The double green flower at the end appeared in a seed strain batch of double white hellebores I was growing on to sell. Almost all of them were double white, but this one was green. This exactly illustrates the risk I was talking about in my article, and isn’t it glorious? I snatched it up and planted it in my own gardens. If the double whites had been tissue cultured, this wouldn’t have happened. Carolyn

  4. I have one of your Hellebores that is almost a black–such a deep purple color and it is absolutely the most gorgeous plant on the face of the earth. In fact, I have about 12 of your hellebores that are the size of azeleas along my front walk. Beyond beautiful in the spring and always the subject of comments by my visitors.

  5. I love these and have a few…I do covet them and lay on the ground in the spring to gaze at the gorgeous flowers…I of course add to the collection a little at a time and I will certainly be adding some of these to that growing list!!

    • Donna, I have ended up with hundreds of hybrid hellebores in my gardens because once I saw the flower I couldn’t bear to sell it. I usually reach down and tip the flower up (as you can see from some of the photos). Unlike some who don’t like the nodding flowers, I enjoy the surprise of each discovery and even the intimate contact with the plant. Carolyn

  6. chris spolsky Says:

    Carolyn,
    A well put case for seed strains rather than tissue cultured hellebores. You have made such a clear and logical argument – obviously your lawyerly skills have come in handy. As far as favorites, they are all beautiful, each in its own way, just like children.

    • Chris, You are so right–they are all beautiful like children, that says it all. I wish there was room for tissue cultured plants and seed strains in the same market. But just like your local hardware store can’t coexist with Wallmart, tissue culture will prevail. To preserve the genetic diversity of plants and animals, we the consumers must vote with our dollars not just our words. Nurseries will only carry seed strains if gardeners buy them, especially in this tight economy. Carolyn

  7. I bet you can guess which I prefer… the lime green of course. Next to blue, this green is my current love. Good post.

  8. Dear Carolyn – this is such a great post as I too often forget that many plants can be grown from seed and not everything is cloned via cutting or tissue culture. Diversity has to be the way forward or else the gene pool depletes which can be catastrophic for plants should the environs change or a particular disease take hold. Now which is my favourite….2nd one down. White with pink freckles – breathtakingly beautiful

    • Laura, You are right: it’s not just diversity that’s at stake, but plant survival if the gene pool becomes diminished (I would make a comment about royal lines but….). Any readers that want to join Laura on her eloquently described travels around London and in her own garden, click here. Carolyn

  9. Dear Carolyn, Oh yes, individuality every time. What a dreary place the world will be if everything is cloned into uniformity. And Hellebores are such personality plants that it seems to me sacriligious to create lookalikes

    Almost one of my first postings was about Hellebores and I do so enjoy collecting the self-seedlings each year and waiting to see what new hybrid will finally emerge. One of my favourites is a near black that I bought many years ago and can no longer recall its name. However, living up to a title is ‘Lady Bonham Carter’ as she is glorious.

  10. Great post Carolyn. Give me variety any day. I planted my first hybrid hellebores last spring … Can’t wait to see my surprises this year or next!

    • Kelly, That’s the great thing–no matter what they look like, they will be beautiful. I have only seen one or two ugly hellebores in my life, and seed strains have been refined so much that I would be amazed if you got a flower you didn’t like. Carolyn

  11. Without the diversity it would be like opening a gift only to find everyone else is opening the same gift. I like the white or yellow ones with the stained look.

    • Patty, You must be a true hellebore connoisseur because the two yellow flowers with the red stains are the most rare of the bunch. I discovered them hidden in the back of a collector’s garden and shot some photos (I left the plants there). Carolyn

  12. Pretty post, Carolyn. My favorite…the green blooms!

  13. uncle, uncle you win. I didn’t even know what a hellebore was before I started reading your blog. Slowly I has been internalizing its beauty. Pretty, I would say. Nice..l. beautiful. But throw in randomness and all those glorious colors and you say I would get a surprise like a prize in Cracker Jacks. OK, Carolyn you win.

    My golly, I am going to figure out what it takes to have these glories growing in the North Carolina red clay.

    The one I like the best, and I looked about 10 times… the second white one with the red accents. I want one so badly now.

    • Cheri, I am going to turn you into an avid shade gardener by the time I am done with you. You will need to get a second income of course, but you will enjoy every moment of it. My recipe for growing hellebores anywhere is add lots of compost. Carolyn

  14. You make a very strong case for seed grown hellebores-I love them all and their unpredictability. I do however understand that some folks may wish for a certain color or type and buying a cultivar while not in bloom (even though nicely labeled) does not guarantee the color and results in disappointment. Been there did that. Now I’ve kind of gotten to the point that whatever the kind of hellebore it is please let it show up in my garden because they are really nice perennials here. I think I have a tie between the very first hellebore and the other purple double. Probably leaning more towards the first one.

    P.S. Thanks for the tip on Rozanne. I have her here but she doesn’t spread so well so I’ve been loathe to move her around. I may try it though or try some cuttings. Another experienced gardener here also told me geranium. Striatum is his go to geranium but either way it looks like the geraniums are the way to go for those blank spots. Can’t stand them at all. Thanks again!

    • Tina, I understand that if you are buying one plant, you want to choose what it looks like. I solve that problem at my nursery by selling blooming plants. Other nurseries don’t do this because they don’t grow plants, they just resell them. The problem is that if retail buyers demand to know exactly what their hellebore looks like even if not in bloom, that is what the market will provide and tissue culture will be the norm. There is no room in this economy for alternatives, at least on a big scale, and tissue cultured plants have all the money, advertising, and big growers behind them. It’s Wallmart or the local hardwware store not both. Carolyn

  15. patientgardener Says:

    To me one of the charms of hellebores is the seedlings and waiting to see what the flowers will be like. I think a bed of identical hellebores would be dull and remove some of the beauty of the plant

    • Helen, You are so right. But in this world of instant gratification, many people don’t want to wait three to five years for their seedling to bloom. And wholesale growers don’t want to grow a plant for three years before selling it, and retail nurseries don’t want to pay the price a three-year old plant would cost. Carolyn

  16. Marcia Meigs Says:

    Lovely to see the fine hellebore photos and read your blog, Carolyn. I understand your viewpoint re: diversity, etc. but there is the problem of muddy colors, lopsided blooms, poor form(cannot stand the squingy, very narrow petals on some), and so forth.
    Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a hellebore is not necessarily beautiful, because it is from a seed strain or simply a hellebore.
    Some people prefer color impact, appropriate blending with neighboring plants, good form for sure, etc. I hate having to decide to chuck a plant into the compost heap. And I despair over any repeated disappointment.
    None the less, from color strains, I have quite a few lovely blooms, but many of them require a stretch of imagination to see them as coming from a particular color strain as shown in photos.
    Too often, when I go to a local nursery, there are no plants in bloom, so I will not take a chance. Too often, when there are plants in bloom, the blooms are boring or really ugly. This for 19.99 to 25.99? No thanks.
    Unfortunately we do not get plants from the well known nurseries. Generally they are seed strains of the Lady strain, or whatever.
    Many of us helleboristas, after ending up with too many mediocre colors, will only buy tissue cultured or plants in bloom. Otherwise, for us it makes financial sense to buy seedling plants or grow from seed.
    I would like to see the best of color strains tissue cultured and given names so that all would recognize what they are getting, either through TC or vegetative divisions.
    It is my opinion that there is a definite need for TC for the above reasons.
    My favorite bloom above is the green(yellow) double at the bottom as I do not have this color or form…smile.
    Your comment re: nodding flowers is a good one. While I do wish they would stand up as I find it very annoying to have to bend over, at 73, amile, I do love the prolific blooms and interesting reverses on some that I have here.
    Only about three or four weeks here until galanthus bloom. Already have blooms under the snow on the Gold Star whites from Germany.
    Really do enjoy this blog and the photos.
    Cheerio,
    Marcia

    Recently a friend and I bought a bunch of small plants from Terra Nova, etc. from various O’Byrne strains to see how much the colors vary withing a strain. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    • Marcia, Wow that is some comment. See my comments above about how I do not think tissue culture and seed strains can coexist. The green flower that you picked out as your favorite would not exist if I didn’t buy seed strain hellebores and grow them on to flowering size for my customers. It was supposed to be double white and almost all of the 72 plants in the flat were except that one.

      I agree that you can get mediocre plants from seed strains, but that is a reflection on the developer of the strain not the efficacy of seed strains. Many of the seed strains marketed early on in the US by the “top hellebore growers” as being “highly select from our best plants” were not and resulted in the problems you mention. Growers didn’t know this because the plants were never grown to flowering size, but I knew because I grew them on.

      Over years of growing, I can say that I got the best results from the “Sunshine Selections” strain from Barry Glick at Sunshine Farms. Every single plant has clear colors and well-formed flowers. For color strains, you can’t beat the “Lady Series”, which is 90% true from seed. I have grown thousands of these plants to flowering size and never been disappointed (although it took them a while to get to this level of selection so if you tried them early on you may have been disappointed). A well-designed seed strain should and does produce a beautiful hellebore. If it doesn’t, the fault is with the developer not the fact that it is a seed strain.

      Too bad you can’t shop at my nursery because I offer hundreds of plants in bloom every year. The Terra Nova plants are quite lovely in bloom if you don’t expect them to match the photo exactly, which I don’t. Thanks for adding to the debate and letting me expand on my article. Carolyn

  17. You have echoed my own sentiments, though Marcia certainly makes some valid points above. I had a multitude of hellebore babies last year, and I am eagerly waiting to see what sort of blooms the seedlings will produce. I think my favorite of the ones you feature is the purple, third from the bottom. I haven’t seen one like that before.

    • Deb, The comments that I have been getting on this article have really allowed me to expand on some of the themes only touched on in the actual post. That is great. You probably know this, but just to get it out there: Mature hybrid hellebores produce a lot of little seedlings around them (sometimes so many that it is a minor nuisance). These seedlings should be removed from the mother plant so they don’t grow up through it. Replant them in a place where they have space to grow on to maturity using plenty of compost in the process. They will need to be watered after transplanting but not once they are established. They make a great ground cover as explained in more detail here. Carolyn

  18. I love them all Carolyn, they are unique in their own right! I too would like diversity in my favourite flowers in the garden, wouldn’t want to see the same old flowers everywhere we go but sometimes you cant help it, tissue culture is so commercialized nowadays, just take a look at our local nurseries!

    • When you say take a look at the tissue cultured plants in our local nurseries, and you are in Malaysia, it makes me so sad. Pretty soon we will have the same plants all over the world just like McDonald’s. The only thing that will cause any diversity is the weather. Carolyn

  19. Bravo to you and your attitude. A good bit of the charm in Hellebores are the variable seedlings. Mine are now at such numbers that there are many seedlings popping up in many places. Not all of them are of breeding age, but I will appreciate them no matter the color.

    • Les, I am glad you enjoy the diversity of hellebore seedlings. The pink hellebore with the green eye in my post is a seedling of a pure pink-flowered plant in my woodland. It seeded in a very obscure spot, and I never really looked at it until it had completely matured and was covered with flowers. I leaned down and turned up the flower to be rewarded with what is a very unusual color combination, which I love. The double pink below it came in a batch of single ‘Pink Lady’ plants that I grew on, the flower below that, which I use as my gravatar, is a seedling H. atrorubens, and the pure white with purple spots/blotch came in a batch of ‘White Lady’ that I grew to flowering size. None of these extraordinary plants that I treasure would exist if I grew on tissue cultured plants. Carolyn

  20. gardeningasylum Says:

    What a thought provoking post! Muddy colors are a problem, it’s true, but as Les points out, isn’t the charm in all the seedlings? Interesting how the hybridizers get hold of certain plants and just max out, til the consumer is a bit weary of it all – I’m thinking of all the tiresome parade of heucheras, e.g.

    • You bring up a really good point. The problem with the hybridizing of heucheras is that too many inferior plants were rushed to market at the beginning without adequate trials. People bought them, had a bad experience, and then got turned off to the plant entirely. And many of those inferior cultivars continue to be produced and sold because the industry doesn’t change very quickly—-if it sells, don’t change it. In the last five years some really excellent plants have hit the market, but many potential customers have gotten weary of heucheras and given up on them. There is no reward in our economy for taking your time with hybridizing. The demand is all for NEW, NEW, NEW. But we have to remember that gardeners are the ones who buy the plants and create the demand. It is our choices that control what happens in the marketplace. Carolyn

      • I’ve only just discovered Heucheras, I bought a bundle sort of lucky dip of plants some years ago, they were very cheap, one of the plants that has grown well for me here and I love the silver etched green leaves which stay all year so last summer I tried to find out what it was and it’s a Heucheras, last autumn I bought a red/purple leafed one I saw in towm which has spent the winter in the shed by the window and will be planted out in spring, I even like their little dots of flowers which is surpriseing as I’m not a pink person, Frances

      • You might have good luck with the Pacific Northwest heuchera cultivars in cooler Scotland. The heucheras with brightly colored leaves are generally not grown for their flowers, which are generally white but sometimes pink like yours, but they can be pretty. I cut them off when I get tired of them.

  21. Carolyn,
    Hellebores … I am drooling. I would willingly grow any of these, but if forced might pick the first pink one as a favourite. It is partly because the flower is drooping and just inviting us to bend down and turn up the bloom and admire what’s inside. I know some breeders now are trying to produce more upright flowers, but to me that destroys the whole point of a hellebore, which is the almost bashful way the flower hangs its head.
    Will you be writing about the different leaves as well? The blue-green sheen of H. argutifolius or the silvery marbling of H. lividus are worth growing on their own, I think, even if the plants did not flower at all.
    Can’t wait for the next installment…

    • Jill, Finally, someone who agrees with me about the nodding flowers—one of my favorite things about hellebores. The one you choose is ‘Peppermint Ice’, a double in the “Winter Jewels” seed strain. This is the first of a three-part hellebore series (not necessarily right after each other), but the other two parts are dividing a hellebore and new hellebores for 2011. I could do the leaves because I have every species but two plus many of the species hybrids in my garden. I am wondering if that’s too esoteric. Anyone else interested in knowing about gorgeous leaves of the many different hellebores? Carolyn

  22. Eloquently argued and beautifully illustrated. I couldn’t agree more, the idea of editing out all serendipity from plant development seems ludicrous and rather obscene. OK, so I always try to choose new hellebores in flower so that I know what I am getting but I am tremendously excited when one of my seedlings starts to flower. Yes, it is normally an unattractive muddy pink and I never plant it, but so what, there is always the chance that I come across something wonderful. As to which is my favourite, I am tempted to say “all of the above” but I tend to prefer simpler flowers to very ruffled ones so I think it would have to be between the third, beautiful creamy yellow, the fourth, which looks as if someone has taken a marker pen to it to jazz it up, the eleventh, such a lovely deep red, the twelfth, which is rather gothic, and an honourable mention to the one that looks like a clematis flower. Oh, and the last but one creamy green one, thus demonstrating that I sometimes like frills too…

    Vive la difference!

    • Janet, I had to open my blog in a different tab so I could count the photos and see which ones you were choosing. I am glad you mentioned the red. Hellebore flowers are always being described as red when they really aren’t, but that one is red and very special. The frilly green one is winning so far.

      Though ludicrous and obscene, editing out all the serendipity is happening and quickly. In reviewing all the comments, I think the answer is that gardeners need to control the marketplace by asking their nurseries to sell hellebores in bloom rather than by just asking for non-blooming hellebores where the flower color is guaranteed (i.e. tissue cultured plants). If the demand was there, then nurseries would in turn demand that the wholesale growers supply blooming hellebores to them. Seed strain hellebores are cheaper so the wholesalers would have an incentive to grow seed strains to flowering size instead of tissue cultured plants. If only I could wave my magic wand. Carolyn

  23. Carolyn: What an exquisite post! I honestly can’t pick a favorite. I discovered Hellebores only recently. I have two plants and hope to add several more. You captured them so beautifully. I usually try to shoot up at them with my camera, but lifting the flower heads up to the camera is a much better technique. Lovely post! Beth

  24. thank you Carolyn I learn so much reading your posts I had never heard of tissue culture untill now it sounds dreadful to me, I think the problem here and in many things about modern life is people want control, they want to know what they have I suppose it’s a form of security, I on the other hand love the unpredictable, well done a good argument and I love the way you have used some of the critical comments to enlarge on your original case you definately know what you are talking about, my fav is the purple the one fourth from the bottom photo Carol Lim just under your gravatar flower,
    thank you for the update about Tara I will get another card in the post soon, it must be so hard on all the family, Frances

    • oops I’ve just scrolled through them again and see the red one is between your gravatar flower and the purple one I like, Frances

    • Frances, I am glad you are a kindred spirit. Tissue culture is not a bad thing in itself. I sell some tissue cultured plants, even some tissue cultured hellebores, mostly species hybrids. It’s potential to crowd out seed strain hellebores is what I am worried about. Tissue culture is used to accomplish some very laudable objectives like producing rare native plants to try and eliminate over collection in the wild. Carolyn

      • islandthreads Says:

        yes saving native plants is important I think, over here it is illegal to take wild plants, it’s ashame things so often go to extremes instead of a happy middle ground,

        thanks for the name of the Hellebore and info re Heucheras, Frances

      • A happy middle ground would solve so many problems big and small. We don’t seem to work that way though.

  25. The hope for my garden is to create a structure that will be able to accommodate the unforeseen. I love surprises, and your entry was a nice surprise on a Sunday afternoon.

    I’m all for growing plants from seeds, especially self-collected seeds, and that carries an element of “risk”; you never know what you get. And I don’t WANT to always know what I get… I want to watch things grow with the excitement that a colour might be off or a seed might be an entirely different species than what you thought because it was collected from a withered plant in some highway ditch.

    • Soren, I think you made my point more eloquently than I did in my whole article (I did supply some nice photos though). I too “don’t WANT to always know what I get”. Carolyn

      • I beg to disagree with you; I found your post very lucid and inspiring, and I wouldn’t have phrased my own opinion like that without reading your entry. 😉

        And the pictures? Pure wonders! The hellebore is known as the “Christmas Rose” in Danish, and the Swedish authoress Selma Lagerlöff wrote The Legend of the Christmas Rose (Seriously, read it! It’s not very long…), which my mother always used to read aloud to us on Christmas Eve when I was a child. That sort of story means the hellebore will always have a special place in my book of plants.

      • Soren, You are very kind. The Legend of the Christmas Rose is so beautifully written and such a magical story, no wonder the hellebore holds a special place for you. I hope you come back to read this comment so you can tell me what a tare is and what does “play in the Christmas straw” refer to? Christmas rose is the common name for H. niger with pure white outward facing flowers. Do they bloom outside at Christmas in Denmark? Here they bloom in March unless you have a special early blooming cultivar. Carolyn

      • Tare: Vicia sativa or perhaps ryegrass? In the Danish translation it’s translated as bindweed, so essentially it’s just another type of weed.

        As for the Christmas straw, throughout Northern Europe it used to be the standard that the floor, whether it was compacted earth or flag stones, was covered with a layer of straw or rushes, and in some more well-to-do houses and castles there might be herbs mixed in with it to mask the less pleasant odors… In the cave, the outlaws might not have followed this tradition, so in this respect the straw represents a bourgeois Christmas clean-up and the family’s return to “normal life”.

  26. Carolyn, your Hellebores are truly beautiful. They seed so freely as does the columbines and with both it is always exciting waiting for the outcome. I have to do something with our Hellebores as the flowers always end up messy looking from trailing on the ground, probably be best to surround them with gravel.

  27. Carolyn, I love the single Hellebores . . . everyone! Hellebores are one of my very favorite flowers and I do not see how they can be improved by creating doubles and such. Just my view. Beautiful post! With Hellebores how could it not be.

    • Carol, My favorite hellebore flowers if forced to choose would all be single (my favorite is not pictured here), but with room for a lot of plants, I like doubles too. Double hellebores are not necessarily created by human intervention, as I understand it, they occur naturally in wild populations. In a flat of 72 seed strain single hellebores, there will often be a double. Carolyn

  28. hocuscrocus Says:

    These are all beautiful, and make the case for bio-diversity. If I had to choose just one, it would be the 12th photo from the top of the long series, which is blue-violet with darker dusting and white stamens and pistils in the center. There is an ethereal beauty there- quietly majestic.

    • Thanks for counting so carefully–I had to go look myself. The one you choose is ‘Blue Lady’ from the “Lady Series” of seed strain hellebores. ‘Blue Lady’ flowers have been reliably gorgeous since the kinks were worked out in this seed strain. They do not, of course, look identical! Carolyn

  29. What beautiful pictures

  30. The 5th and the 11th…although I’d be happy to accept any you are sharing
    🙂

  31. Carolyn, yay for this post! I am totally with you on this. While I love some of the new hybrids (I have one hellebore called Golden Sunrise that makes my toes curl with delight, and many other plant cultivars/hybrids) I totally LOVE the chance seedlings and variations that pop up, as well as the standard parent plants (such as Echinacea). Variation is good. Perfection and sameness makes me very, very nervous.

  32. Picture #14 is the one that I like best.

    Excellent post, Carolyn.

  33. Hi Carolyn! I am relatively new to your site and I love it. Shade plants fascinate me. The deep purple Hellebore is my favorite, as is the first one at the top of your blog (are they the same?)
    I love it when the unexpected happens in the garden. A stray branch bearing variegated foliage (or the reverse), a flower that is unlike its brothers and sisters, etc. That keeps it interesting in my opinion!

  34. Carolyn I loved this post. Seed producing plants just don’t get the attention they deserve. While it’s nice to know what you’re getting there’s also a wonderful surprise that happens with seed. It is the very essence of life, ever changing, unexpected. One of my favourite plants is columbine, just for this reason. They mix about so freely, you never know what your garden will look like and you have to learn to love the unexpected.

  35. Christine Says:

    The deep purple and green ones are my favorites! Your blog is one that has had me hunting for hellebores in south Africa! So happy to have finally found a few.

  36. my favorite, the double white, the double dark purple and the double green….beautiful

  37. Where can I get some Hellebores seeds?

  38. Thank you so much for this! I adore differences and find variety in the garden terrifically exciting and fun! I not only fully agree with your article, but love hearing that I might be able to grow a variety of hellebores just from planting the seeds from the ones I have! Thank you for posting this! My favorites are the double (triple?) purple three from the bottom, and the striped one six from the bottom.

  39. I HAVE GOT TO HAVE THAT FIRST ONE PICTURED!!! OH My Heavens!! I love purple AND green. But I already have a green one and I want that drop dead gorgeous beautiful flower to look at in my garden. Carolyn, can you please tell me how I could be a proud owner of this gorgeous plant? Thanks!

  40. Marilyn Fees Says:

    Just found your site this morning, when looking for advice about cutting back helleborus leaves. So much useful information. Thank you. Regarding your seed strain helleborus, my favorite is the white with speckles. While I have not had any luck with the Christmas Rose here in southwest Germany, the Lenten Rose is flourishing in my garden. I have 4 large clumps, each different, and each beautiful!

  41. Judith Holm Says:

    I just found your site and am pleased to have such good information. I have hellebores in my new garden (planted two years ago) and was unfamiliar with the plants, however I am in awe of the varieties and have added two new ones to the current batch, Pacific Frost and Ruby Wine. The others are Picotee Lady and Pink Frost. Thanks for your information.

    • Pacific Frost is a cultivar of the species H. argutifolius grown for its white-variegated leaves. It doesn’t do well for me in my climate but may work in other areas of the country. I have very good luck with Picotee Lady and Pink Frost and would imagine that Ruby Wine, which is a hybrid hellebore, would do well too.

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