Archive for ‘Ballerina Ruffles’ hellebore

Hellebore Leaves

Posted in hellebores, How to, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News: 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.


Helleborus 'Ballerina Ruffles'This beautiful, newly introduced double hellebore called ‘Ballerina Ruffles’ will be available at the hellebore sale on March 29.

One certain sign of spring at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is when I start getting calls and emails about hellebore leaves.  Since so many of my customers have questions about this, I thought I would write a quick post on the subject.  For a longer post with a detailed explanation of hellebore maintenance as applied to the various types of hellebores you might have in your garden, please read Cutting Back Hellebores.


DSCN3715Sweet box (Sarcococca) is a true evergreen shrub and still looks beautiful after our hard winter.

The question I get from my customers this time of year is: “What’s wrong with my hellebores, the leaves look terrible?”  The answer is that although hellebores are often called evergreen, they are actually an herbaceous perennial and lose their foliage every year just like a peony or a coneflower.  Unlike a peony, hellebore leaves last through most of the winter adding ornamental interest to the winter garden.  Hellebore foliage is winter green not evergreen.  Eventually the leaves fade and are replaced with fresh new growth.


DSCN3713-001A typical hellebore in my garden right now.

In mild winters, hellebore leaves will still look fresh and green in March.  But in harsh winters like the one we just experienced, hellebore foliage will look like the photo above.  No matter what the leaves look like though, you should cut them off at the base in late winter before the flowers start to emerge.  I usually recommend mid-February but that was impossible this year.  I am cutting them back now as they emerge from the snow.  I want to get the job done before the new flower stems mingle with the old leaf stems.  If that happens it is hard to remove the leaves without unintentionally chopping off flowers.


DSCN3710Just trace the leaf back to the base of the plant and cut it off.


DSCN3727A close up of the base of the plant with the old leaves and the new buds.

So the answer is there is nothing wrong with your hellebores.  Despite the awful winter and frigid temperatures, they will bloom as beautifully as ever.  They just need a little maintenance.  But before you get chopping, please read the more detailed directions in Cutting Back Hellebores.


DSCN3711As soon as the snow melted, snow crocuses burst into bloom, a sure sign of spring.

DSCN3723Snowdrops are equally as determined to get blooming and have been covered with honeybees on warmer days.

That is about all that is going on at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens right now.  If you have ordered snowdrops, I am hoping to start shipping as early as next week.  Although it is supposed to go down to 20 degrees tonight, the ten-day forecast predicts warmer weather.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!


Nursery Happenings: Our first open house sale featuring a huge variety of hellebores is scheduled for Saturday, March 29, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers will get an email with details.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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