ISSUE 51  |  Winter Cabins

5 Favorites: Hardworking Hellebores That Bloom in the Snow

December 17, 2012 12:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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Yes, I remember snow in April—I grew up in Chicago, after all—and how my father timed his tulips to bloom in May when it was safe. Except the year it wasn't. We have the Polaroids: scarlet flowers in a white blanket for one brief, bright morning before they all died. May I recommend hellebores instead?

Hellebores are not nearly as gaudy as tulips, these sturdy early-blooming perennials known as "Lenten roses" or "Christmas roses," but they stand up to snow:

Above: If you want to actually see the droopy flowers that hide beneath the foliage, it is a good idea to plant hellebores on a slope—or to bring them inside to mix them with other cut flowers in vases. Photograph by Protein Chemist via Flickr.

Above: Helleborus Niger 'Praecox' pushes through the snow in late February; a plant in a quart-size pot is $12 from Pine Knot Farms. Photograph by Bob Gutowski via Flickr.

Above: A hellebore makes an appearance in a St. Louis garden in late February. For a flower with a similar burgundy tinge, consider Helleborus x Ballardiae 'Pink Frost' available in a 3-inch pot for $24.95 apiece from White Flower Farm. Photograph by Chris Everett via via Flickr.

Above: The leathery green foliage of hellebores is evergreen, and handsome, making the plant useful year round in a shaded woodland garden. Photograph by Janet Powell via Flickr.

Above: In early February, Helleborus 'Cinnamon Snow' blooms in a garden in Indiana. A plant in a 3.5-inch pot is $16 from Plant Delights. Photograph by Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp.

Above: A snowy hellebore emerges in April. For a similar ivory-colored flower, consider Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'; a 3-inch potted plant is $22.95 from White Flower Farm. Photograph by Carlton Gardener via Flickr.

Above: It's snowing on Easter. And when it melts tomorrow, this hellebore will stand unscathed. For a similar rosy tinge, consider Helleborus 'Walberton's Rosemary'; a 1-quart potted plant is $17.95 from Great Garden Plants.

Above: There are a number of light green hellebores, belonging to the species of Helleborus foetidus species; the ones with red-rimmed leaves look as if they've just applied lipstick. For a similar color, consider Helleborus Red Silver; a plant in a 3.5-inch pot is $13.