March 2013 GBBD: Hellebores on Parade Again

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  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

hellebores at Davoid Culp'sMy friend David Culp had this lovely bowl of hellebore flowers on his porch when I visited his garden Brandywine Cottage recently.  This is an elegant way to display your hellebores and gives a feeling for the range of colors and forms available.  For more gorgeous photos of David’s garden, check out his book The Layered Garden.

It is the middle of the month and time to participate in Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by May Dreams Gardens (link available on the 15th of the month) where gardeners from all over the world publish photos each month of what’s blooming in their gardens.  I participate because it is fun and educational for me to identify what plants make my gardens shine at different times of the year.  I am calling this post Hellebores on Parade Again because for GBBD in January 2012 I also put my hellebores on parade (click here to read it).

This month I am using this opportunity to profile the hellebores that will be available at my upcoming Hellebore Extravaganza Sale at my nursery on Saturday, March 23, from 10 am to 3 pm.  All photos are of hellebores blooming in my garden right now.

My garden is located in Bryn Mawr (outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, U.S., in zone 6B.

Helleborus x 'Pink Frost'
‘Pink Frost’ is my favorite of the Christmas rose crosses.  Its blue leaves set off the bright pink flowers beautifully, and the flowers fade to a gorgeous rose-red for an extremely long season of interest.


hellebore pink frost at David Culp's‘Pink Frost’ also works quite well in a container where its beauty can be examined up close (Culp garden).


Helleborus niger‘There is nothing like the pure white, outward-facing flowers of Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, to stop you in your tracks.  A mature clump can have dozens of flowers.


Helleborus niger 'Double Fantasy'The double Christmas rose ‘Double Fantasy’ is quite striking.


Helleborus x 'Mary Lou'Hellebore ‘Mary Lou’ has huge flowers and a wide pink border surrounding a bold maroon spotted “face”.


Helleborus x 'Warbler'The late afternoon sun shines through the early-blooming, yellow hellebore ‘Warbler’, whose flowers continue to be very ornamental even when they have technically “gone by”.  As you can see though, new buds are on the way.


Helleborus x 'Warbler'Here is a close up of ‘Warbler’ that I have posted before.


Helleborus x 'Phoebe'The double pink hellebore ‘Phoebe’ is just coming into bloom in my garden.


Helleborus x 'Phoebe'A close up of ‘Phoebe’.  


Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'‘Painted Bunting’ is the first hybrid hellebore to bloom in my garden and isn’t fazed by all the cold weather we have been having.


Helleborus x 'Painted Bunting'‘Painted Bunting’s’ picotee markings with the maroon center flaring out to outline the pure white petals makes it very special.


Helleborus x 'Elegance White'‘Elegance White’ is another lovely double hellebore.

.Helleborus purpurascensThe species hellebore H. purpurascens has a very unique slate purple color not found in any other hellebore.


Helleborus purpurascensA close up of Helleborus purpurascens.


Helleborus odorusFragrant hellebore, H. odorus, adds a bright note to the winter garden and looks gorgeous paired with red hellebores like ‘Red Lady’.


Helleborus odorusA close up of fragrant hellebore.


Helleborus x 'Red Lady'‘Red Lady’ hellebore


Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Cinnamon Snow'Another early-blooming Christmas rose cross, ‘Cinnamon Snow’.


Helleborus x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow'A close up of ‘Cinnamon Snow’.


Helleborus x 'Black'This black hybrid hellebore grabs the attention of every garden visitor I have.


Helleborus x 'First Cuckoo'The double hellebore ‘First Cuckoo’ is new to me this year.


Helleborus x sahinii 'Winter Bells,This very unusual flower belongs to the first ever cross between bearsfoot hellebore, H. foetidus, and Christmas rose, H. niger, called H. x sahinii ‘Winter Bells’.  It is new for me this year but looks quite promising for flowers and foliage interest.


Two more hellebore container ideas from David Culp:

hellenores David Culp'sDouble black hellebores paired with their favorite companion, snowdrops.


hellebores David CulpAn enchanting combination of cream-colored hellebores and pussy willows, a shrub I may offer in my upcoming woody plant offer.


Enjoy, Carolyn


Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US, zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Nursery Happenings:  The nursery is open and fully stocked.  If you can’t come to an event, just email to schedule an appointment–we are available this weekend.  My Hellebore Extravaganza open house sale is Saturday, March 23, from 10 am to 3 pm.  If you are a customer, expect an email shortly with all the details.  There are still a few spaces left in the hellebore seminar on Monday, March 18, at 10 am.  For details click here.  The 2013 Snowdrop Catalogue is on the sidebar of the website and orders are being accepted now.  To view the catalogue, click here.  The 2013 General Catalogue is available here.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens 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.

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.

65 Responses to “March 2013 GBBD: Hellebores on Parade Again”

  1. Paddy Tobin Says:

    Hi Carolyn, Lovely selection of hellebores. However, it is your comment on David Culp’s book, “The Layered Garden” which caught my eye. It is nearly two months in the house but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet. Every time I try to do so Mary says she isn’t finished with it yet – two month reading and re-reading; You’d think she’s have enough of it by now! LOL I’ll get it eventually.

    • Paddy, Let’s hope Mary gets done with David’s book soon so you can see the photos of his lovely garden. He and I share the love of many of the same plants—hellebores, snowdrops, epimediums, magnolias—so I especially enjoy my visits to his garden. Carolyn

  2. nwphillygardner Says:

    Have you tried floating Hellebore flowers? Do you know how long they last indoors, or if you need to sear the cut stem to keep it longer? Floating them is such a lovely way to showcase the often downward nodding blossoms, with all their subtle muted color variations…..that naturally harmonize with one another. Enjoying these flowers indoors is the antidote to often inhospitable March weather.
    I know David Culp is a breeder of Hellebores & may have access to many in pots which he can use to create wonderful container displays. Do you know if Hellebores can thrive or even survive if planted year-round in weatherproof containers in your zone? I love the combined arrangement of them with pussy willow branches, reminding us you can add forced stems from other woodies to enhance them in containers.
    Thanks for another inspiring post.

    • Eric, I have tried floating the flowers, but I kept them outside. I am not sure how long they last inside. I don’t think it’s necessary to sear the stems. The only hellebore I have ever grown in a container and left outside for the whole winter is bearsfoot, and it did fine. I am not sure if David leaves his outside for the winter or pops them in and out for display. If any reader has experience with either of these issues, please comment. Carolyn

  3. Hello Carolyn,
    Some gorgeous and varied hellebore flowers here. I’m very envious of them. Right now all ours have been freeze dried into sad browning stems by some exceptionally cold drying winds. Still there’s always next year…..
    Best wishes

  4. Truly lovely hellebores, so many lovely new ones to tempt us to buy! There were some good ideas to use for winter containers, some might just appear here next winter!

  5. Some real special blooms here! I especially like Phoebe and Mary Lou…Painted Bunting catches my eye as well and the black is outstanding! larry

  6. I have become smitten with hellebores. When I started down your post, I thought I would like the white one the best, but then I saw Phoebe, then the purples one, then the black! Oh, my – too many to choose just one! I love the arrangement of the black hellebores with the snowdrops. That is simply beautiful.

  7. I really like the black hybrid, I can see why it is an attention getter. I really like your planter displays and the dish floating the hellebores at the opening of the post. It is a great idea and very colorful.

  8. Gorgeous! I had no idea there are black ones!

  9. What a beautiful display of hellebores! Looking forward to the arrival of Spring, here, before long!

  10. curbstonevalley Says:

    I love the elegance white, and the black hybrid! I can’t believe I only have one Hellebore in my garden. I planted last year as an experiment to see how it did. They’re much tougher plants than I expected. I’m half tempted to plant a lot more…but how on earth do you choose?! They’re all gorgeous!

  11. The double black hellebores and snowdrops! amazing! I will have to try the pussy willow and cream hellebore, I have lots of pussy willow, one of those shrubs that’s virtually indestructible!

  12. what a delightful bowl of hellebores…and all those colors I do love that bluish back one!

  13. jim Davis Says:

    Hi Carolyn,

    Recently I went to a Mississippi event (I’m originally from there) and picked up a book on the restoration of Eudora Welty’s garden. Would you like to see it? jim davis

  14. Each image drew a deeper breath than the one before! I would be so tempted to buy them all from you if I lived in your area. Thank you for sharing such beauties. Christina

  15. Carolyn I will trade you some snow for a hellebore. It is snowing and will for the next week even for the start of spring…cold temps will keep us white. I love some of the containers especially the last one…stunning.

  16. Some severe damage to H. hybridus forms in Ireland this Spring, due to softness of early growth then -6.

    • Vincent, I am so sorry to hear about your hellebores. Julian in Wales left the same comment. We do go down to 21 degrees F (-6 C) occasionally when the hellebores are getting started with no apparent affect, but maybe yours were farther out.

  17. Your hellebores are all beautiful. The snow has melted in my serenity garden and the tattered remains of last year’s hellebore foliage has appeared; so far, though, no signs of new growth or buds.

  18. As if I needed any more, I bought two more today at Sandy’s Plants in Richmond. It was her open house and I was able to get wholesale. Such a deal! Happy GBBD.

  19. Hellebores displayed in a bowl like that always looks impressive. Lovely table centre piece too!
    Oh boy, how I wish I lived closer, then again I would probably be bankruptcy within a week. Your selection is breath taking!

  20. aberdeen gardening Says:

    Having got back into Hellebores I was thinking the common Christmas Rose Niger was hard to beat. Mind you that black hybrid looks worthy of naming.

  21. Great post! I’m currently reading David Culp’s book. Would love to visit his garden someday. For some reason unusual Hellebores are hard to come by around here. I’m going out in search of some today. ‘Pink Frost’ is definitely on my radar. Happy GBBD!

  22. The painted bunting is beautiful, and that black hybrid?! *drooling* Happy Bloom Day!

  23. Ooh! That double pink Hellebore is just gorgeous. Had’nt seen the black ones before.

  24. Absolutely love that bowl full of blooms. Especially since so many of these flowers are downfacing and difficult to view when walking through the garden.

    • Marguerite, A lot of customers like the new hellebores like Pink Frost and Cinnamon Snow because the flowers are outward-facing like their Christmas rose parent. I like them too. However, I love the fact that the traditional nodding hybrids cause me to slow down in the garden, lean over, and touch the flowers to turn them up. Each overturned flower is like a little present waiting for me to discover it. Carolyn

  25. Your selection is just gorgeous, just one stunner after the other! But then I am slightly obsessed with Hellebores so maybe a bit partial…I tried to search for the black one over here, do you know the name for it? Is it ‘Black’ or ‘Black beauty’ ? Or something else? It seems there are varieties sold in US that we don’t have and vice versa. I am definitely trying to get ‘Pink Frost’ but I haven’t seen it yet, but there is a nice series called Harvington here, in single and double and many different colours, I might get some of them in the autumn, when they are cheaper. Obsessions cost money!

    And now I have got another, new obsession, magnolias! I didn’t think I could grow magnolia in my tiny garden and I have just ordered two!! One will arrive next week hopefully, the other one won’t arrive until late April. Can’t wait, I have always wanted a magnolia!
    Have a nice Sunday, Carolyn and thanks for all the great info 🙂

    • Helene, The black hybrid hellebore that I have comes as ‘Single Black’, ‘Ruse Black’, or ‘Black’. You will love Pink Frost. It is not a traditional hybrid hellebore, but a cross between Christmas rose and H. lividus, a red-highlighted hellebore species from Majorca. The cross is called H. x ericsmithii. I love magnolias. Which did you order? Have you read Larry’s blog Conrad Art Glass and Gardens? He is the king of magnolias. Carolyn

      • Carolyn, I read and comment regularly on Larry’s blog, and he has actually suggested several magnolias to me, but they have proved difficult to get over here. Because my garden is so small my main requirement was a magnolia grown as single stem, and I wanted a scented one, preferably in a shade of pink. I will grow it in a container until the crown reaches above my fence level. I contacted a lot of nurseries, some had single stem, but to a horrific price, but finally I found one who could deliver; a Magnolia soulangeana ‘Heaven Scent’, single stem, 150-200 cm when delivered, 10l pot. That’s what I will get hopefully next week.

        And only a few days after I had order, I found another single stem magnolia on the Internet. I have contacted the nursery to ask what variety it is but they didn’t answer that question, only said it was a Magnolia soulangeana, they did however confirm the info on the website, where it say the magnolia is 80 cm when delivered and will never grow to more than 150cm, regardless of whether it is grown in the ground or in a container. Not sure how that is possible, perhaps it is grafted onto something else, it is bare root so I will see when it arrives by end of April, but I think another question to Larry might be necessary 

        Thanks for the info about the black hellebore, I have looked at so many, but none of them have those blackish leaves too, does your plants retain that leaf colour or is just when the leaves are young? All the hellebores I have seen advertised here with almost black flowers have just green leaves, that’s what made yours so spectacular. Still looking for ‘pink frost’, I have found ‘Winter Moonbeam’, Walberton’s ‘Ivory Prince’, ‘Pirouette’ and ‘Ruby Glow’ all ericsmithii, but not ‘pink frost’…typical. Will still be looking.

      • Helene, I will await photos of your new magnolias with interest. The leaves on the black-leaved hellebore come out black/purple and fade to green later in the season. ‘Pink Frost’ is worth the search. How about the RHS plant finder? Carolyn

  26. I guessed that hellebores couldn’t be grown in pots because their roots grow so deep, but it looks like the ideal way to display them.

  27. I think I landed within the facets of a rainbow when I came here to see all these lovely hues of hellebores. Absolutely beautiful!! My favorite presentation is the one in the pot with the moss…just lovely.

  28. […] March 2013 GBBD: Hellebores on Parade Again ( […]

  29. I almost missed your post with marvelous hellebores! I don’t have any here, so your images are making my day!

  30. So many hellebores! They are very beautiful especially that ‘Pink Frost’.

  31. What a lovely parade! So many lovely flowers! I really like your porch display and also the bowl of hellebores.

  32. Carolyn, I love the hellebore/pussy willow combination! Hellebores certainly deserve all the praise they receive.

    Also, thanks for visiting and commenting on my Burkwood viburnum post. You asked about the berries. My Burkwood viburnum does produce berries, but they are not particularly showy, and they don’t seem to last long on the shrubs; the birds eat them up. I do know that in order to produce berries many viburnums need to be cross-pollinated by other shrubs of similar, but not exactly the same, species. So in order to have good berry production, you can’t have just one.

  33. I always am so impressed with the range of hellebores you have Carolyn. The white ones especially caught my attention this time and the black is so unique no wonder everyone who visits the nursery remarks on it. I am wonder about planting them in containers. Can they overwinter in a clay pot as shown or do they spend the winter in a greenhouse?

    • Jennifer, The plants in the clay pot were in David Culp’s garden. I have no experience with keeping hellebores outside in a pot all winter other than I did it successfully with bearsfoot hellebore once. It is a question of whether the roots can freeze. Carolyn

  34. Hello Carolyn, I haven’t blogged for a while, but glad I didn’t miss your hellebore posting. You have such a wonderful variety and lovely to see their sweet blooms when mine are still buds. The snowdrops I bought from you are still sleeping — I mentioned them in my post today. I ordered Culp’s book, but it didn’t come yet. Since I read your posting, I am really glad I ordered it. P. x

  35. Teufelskunst Says:

    Greetings, I have linked to your wonderful blog about hellebores here:

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