black helleborus orientalis 2I ALWAYS START TO FEEL BETTER, like we’re turning a corner, when the hybrids of Helleborus hybridus (the orientalis hybrids) jump all the way up out of the ground and start showing off. After a couple of weeks of timid semi-bloom, with the flowers hugging close to the ground on unextended stalks as if in fear of assault by lingering winter blasts, here they finally come. More on these favorite plants, including a podcast:

I started a decade ago with a flat of seedlings of “black” ones (above, a grown-up plant of my favorite color) and yellow ones (below, from another of my oldest, an example with a dark blotch inside). You can see that the yellows are more vigorous, with many more flower stalks per clump. Some of my yellow plants have close to 40 stalks with three to four blooms each, or 125 to 150ish flowers on one plant. They also start to emerge earlier from winter here, compared to the very dark-colored ones.

yellow helleborus orientalisFrom these two colors I ended up with everything in between, including some bicolors, and once I saw the possibilities I bought some more such oddities, as these stories, recent podcast, and slideshows confirm:

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  1. Kim says:

    Do you have thoughts about the best sources for hardy hellebores? We’re right on the ocean in Maine… which is zone 5 – with a fair amount of rain/snow/wind. I have been able to grow hellebores in more sheltered areas… they are self-seeding and seem happy. Local nurseries do not carry many options…

  2. Amy Kaufman says:

    You mention a flat of hellebore seedlings. Do you have a recommended source for these, ideally in the northeast?

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Amy. Mine were gifted from a friend who had grown them himself. I now can transplant babies I dig up from around my old plants. I don’t know what nurseries if any sell “plugs” or “liners” (baby plants in cells) retail, but sometimes a local nursrey is willing to order in a tray of plugs and mark it up and resell it to you, rather then pot it up and grow it on to gallon-sized plants first.

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