By Susan Leigh Anthony, Kennedy’s Perennials Buyer
As I walk through my yard and the display gardens at Kennedy’s this time of year, Mid- March, I spot several Hellebores (aka Lenten Rose) just beginning their long season of bloom. For quite some time they sat, a tad too chilly to unfurl, but now with a few days of milder temps, they are ready to strut their stuff. My first sighting of these beauties was in Cohasset, where a lady I knew grew them along the side of her driveway. No one, but no one, had them besides her, as far as I knew, at least not in this area. In the early nineteen eighties a very dear friend of mine started some from seeds purchased from Germany. They grew over the years, albeit slowly, in a hidden garden at the back of his property, flourishing and sending off seed to make little Hellebore children. Each year, for many years, he would allow me to take a few of these. Then, grateful of the gifts, I would head home and tuck them around my yard. Over the last twenty plus years, they have flourished here at my home I call Doveflower Cottage and I cannot resist the temptation of adding to my collection. I marvel each year at their subtle color palette – Some aubergine, white, pale yellow, green, pink, mauve. Some are single, double, ruffled, picotee, or spotted. Most of what we will carry are Helleborus orientalis, but we also plan to have some Helleborus foetidus, a chartreuse bloomer which, when content in a place, will freely self-sow. A few variety with interesting foliage will also be available. All are breathtaking in my eyes! After a long, somewhat barren, winter season, there is, to me, not a more welcome sight than these glorious and gorgeous harbingers of Spring.
But there is more to love about Hellebores than their being just another collection of pretty faces in the garden. The following are additional attributes of Hellebores. 1) Deer and rabbit resistant 2) Extremely long blooming (March – May) 3) Super early bloom 4) Will grow in part shade and mix well with other shade loving plants 5) Once established they are drought resistant And PS-Nowhere near as difficult to move or divide as you may have heard.
Since coming to work at Kennedy’s in 2013, I have seen an ever -increasing interest in hellebores, and have steadily added to the number I bring in each year. Though, admittedly, a bit pricey, most people have come to understand that these slow growing beauties take a long time to develop into blooming specimens (4 years) and that they are extremely long lived, tough perennials. Kennedy’s invites you to come in this Spring to see what we have chosen for this year’s hellebore collection!