Species Hellebores for 2012

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

‘Josef Lemper’ Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, has very large flowers and blooms from November into May depending on the weather.

In my post New Hellebores for 2012, I profiled all the exciting new hybrid hellebores that I am offering this spring.  If you haven’t read it, there are some gorgeous photos.  Now I want to show you the species hellebores that are available at my nursery this year.  In a third post, I will describe what I call the “species crosses” that you can add to your garden this spring.

The Christmas rose ‘Jacob’ is loaded with flowers from November through late spring.

In The Sex Lives of Hellebores, I described the difference between hybrid hellebores, the subject of my February 2012 new hellebore post, and the roughly 15 types of species hellebores.  I sell most of the species by special order, but here I want to profile the five that I will be featuring this year.  My favorite is Christmas rose, Helleborus niger.  Despite its name, I used to have to wait until March to view its lovely pure white flowers.  With the introduction of the cultivars ‘Josef Lemper’ and ‘Jacob’, which reliably start blooming in November, you can now have Christmas roses blooming for Christmas.

Christmas rose flowers age to a lovely pink: ‘Jacob’ with fall-blooming camellia ‘Winter’s Joy’.

Christmas roses have many desirable attributes which I described at length in Christmas Rose: The Perfect Hellebore.  Their outward facing, pure white flowers are framed by lovely blue-green leaves that stay ornamental through winter.  They are deer resistant like hybrid hellebores but are smaller and have a more refined look than the hybrids.  For more information on ‘Jacob’ and ‘Josef Lemper’, see
Hellebores for Fall.

Double Christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘Double Fantasy’

I am very excited to be able to offer ‘Double Fantasy’, a fully double Christmas rose developed through tissue culture by a nursery in Japan.  Before it was introduced in 2011, I had only seen one double (in Charles Cresson’s garden), and double Christmas roses were not available for sale.  Its flowers are magical.

Fragrant hellebore, Helleborus odorus

The next three species, H. odorus, H. purpurascens, and H. viridis, were all profiled in depth in The Sex Lives of Hellebores because they are all parents of the hybrid hellebores.  However, they are gardenworthy in their own right and have attributes the hybrids don’t have.  I am a big fan of green flowers, and fragrant hellebore, H. odorus, has striking yellow-green flowers with a delicious scent that is pervading my garden right now.  It looks especially nice when grown with dark purple hybrids.

flower of fragrant hellebore

Fragrant hellebore (right) with ‘Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore

flower of Helleborus purpurascens

Helleborus purpurascens, which has no handy common name, is another one of my favorites.  The colors mixed in its flowers, blue-green and a silvery, smoky purple, have not been duplicated in any of the hybrid flowers.  I would also grow it just for its circular, filigreed leaves:

Helleborus purpurascens

outside of H. purpurascens flower

Green hellebore, H. viridis, has the purest green flowers of almost any plant I grow.  It is also shorter and more compact than the hybrid hellebores and the other species.  It too looks great with dark purple to black flowers, but my favorite combination features green hellebore with a drift of the true blue flowers of brunnera—heaven:

Green hellebore, H. viridis

flower of green hellebore

The final species that I will be offering this spring is bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus.  I profiled this plant in detail in Hellebores for Fall.  Bearsfoot has the most ornamental leaves of any hellebore, and they are truly wintergreen coming through ice and snow looking pristine.  Bearsfoot forms its lovely chartreuse buds in the fall.  The flowers open in winter and remain ornamental until it gets hot.  It is also taller than other hellebores, reaching two feet or more and giving it the stature of a small shrub:

Bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus

unusual, evergreen leaves of bearsfoot hellebore

When I started this post, I thought I would be able to fit the seven species above plus the five “species crosses” I will also be selling this spring.  You know me though: I get excited about hellebores.  By the time I included all the photos I wanted, the post was long enough.  Look for a third post with some exciting crosses, all with Christmas rose as a parent.


Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Nursery Happenings: My Hellebore Extravaganza open house sale is Saturday, March 24, from 10 am to 3 pm.  The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are sold out.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  Snowdrops are still available for pick  up at the nursery, but mail order is closed.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

25 Responses to “Species Hellebores for 2012”

  1. I never knew there were so many different varieties of H. niger, they are all gorgeous and to have them flowering from November, what a joy!! Love Jacob with its two tone flowers, must see if I can track that down over here. I think the species have a modest charm that some of the oriental hybrids seem to have lost, they are delightful.

  2. How beautiful to have these stars in your garden! I am jealous!

  3. Absolute lovely! Larry

  4. Christmas roses for Christmas – sounds wonderful! Love that pink color! And that double is gorgeous! Love the look of them under the blooming camellia.

  5. I love them all. I can’t make it down to your place is there any chance of shipping (even if they are smaller plants)? Please, please!

  6. So beautiful! I love those double Hellebores and I am hoping I can find some this spring.

  7. They’re all amazing, Carolyn! The Double Christmas Rose is particularly unique–it almost looks like a Camellia.

  8. I do like the doubles, but am partial to the lime green singles too. Do you know WP did not get back to me on my subscription problem. I am still waiting for an answer. I am not receiving the email alerts. Oh well, it just means clicking more on the same post until a new one pops up.

  9. Well you have narrowed down what I want…so i will be emailing you soon!!

  10. miriam schaefer Says:

    sorry but this is the only way I could figure out to send you an email. I no longer receive notices of your saturday sales- this is all I get- can you put me back on the other list? thanks

  11. I think will now be on the lookout for H. viridis. I am intrigued by green flowers.

  12. I like your common name (bearsfoot) for h. foetidus better than what I usually hear (stinking hellebore). So many people get turned off this lovely plant because of that silly common name and it’s one of my favourites.

  13. Love Jacob and H. purpurascens

  14. Hello Carolyn, my recent introduction of Hellebores in our garden should have included the Christmas Rose, now on the list for Autumn planting, and I like the new ones which you show us..

  15. Carolyn, Thanks for continuing to contribute to my hellebore education. I love the idea of combining the chartreuse or green flowers with the dark purples.

  16. I always learn so much when I stop by your place. I only have a few hellebore, but I would like to add more. I did not know about all these differences.

  17. That combination of ‘Jacob’ and ‘Winter’s Joy’ is so beautiful, as is the colour of the H. purpurascens flower.
    My favourite hellebore for foliage is lividus, which has that exquisite pink marbling on quite a small plant – but I think you may have told me that it is not hardy in PA.

  18. Oh my beautiful hellebore’s you have going on. Love that white, I’ve got one of the green ones and a regular ole purple one.

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