Helleborus x hybridus, or Lenten rose as it is often called, is one of nature’s great acts of restraint and sophistication. The pendulous, saucer-shaped blooms are a real eye-catcher in the late winter, early spring garden when there is little to out stage its subtle beauty. The leathery, dark green foliage adds great texture to the garden after the flowers have faded.
There are several species and varieties of hellebores planted in gardens today. Although you can find fancier hybrids, my favorites are those that are cream to chartreuse in color or the deep purple-black varieties. In addition to H. x hybridus I have also grown H. foetidus, or stinking hellebore. As the name implies, when the leaves are crushed it smells quite unpleasant, but the bell-shaped, green blooms edged in purple are lovely and often have a sweet scent. Helleborus niger or Christmas rose is another favorite. Large, white blooms that fade to pink are produced close to Christmas in my garden, making it one of the earliest to bloom.
If you attempt to grow this unique perennial in your flower borders, be patient. It can be hard to establish in your garden, although well worth any trouble.