Hellebore "Ruby Wine" flowers with "Ivory Prince" in the background

Hellebores: Neither Hellish nor Boring

On a recent trip to Salt Spring Island, I acquired three hellebore plants at Fraser’s Thimble Farm, a nursery that specializes in the unusual and intriguing. Soon after, I read this post about hellebores by Paul Andruss on Sally Cronin’s blog. That inspired me to feature my three new plants in a post of their own.

These plants aren’t your run-of-the-mill hellebores, like most of the ones I already have. They are hybrids specially developed by breeders looking for striking effects and unique colours.

First, Helleborus  x ericsmithii “Pirouette”, a lovely soft pink with lime green nectaries and cream-coloured stamens that look like stars.

Hellebore "Pirouette" pink flowers
“Pirouette”
Hellebore "Pirouette" pink flowers
“Pirouette” again.

Next, Helleborus  x hybridus “Winter Jewel Black Diamond”. This is about as close as you can get to a black flower. It’s really a dark purple-red with a greyish bloom on the petals that gives them that nearly black look.

Hellebore "Black Diamond" flower close up
“Black Diamond.” You can see the underlying red in the petals on the right.
Hellebore "Black Diamond" flower petal reverse blue
“Black Diamond.” The reverse sides of the flowers look almost blue!

Finally, Helleborus x hybridus “Winter Jewel Ruby Wine”. This one looks gorgeous with the flowers and leaves backlit by sunlight.

Hellebore "Ruby Wine" backlit
“Ruby Wine” living up to its name.
Hellebore "Ruby Wine" flower close up
“Ruby Wine” flower up close.

The featured image at the top of the post shows “Ruby Wine” with “Ivory Prince” in the background. “Ivory Prince” has lived in a big blue pot near my front door for years. Now it has “Ruby Wine” for company.

Oriental Hellebore "Ivory Prince"
Hellebore “Ivory Prince”

While I was taking pictures of the new plants, I noticed this youngish plant of the Corsican hellebore, Helleborus argutifolius, self-seeded in just the right place.

Corsican hellebore green flowers
Corsican hellebore’s lime green flowers.

Lastly, not a hellebore at all, but a photo of the Japanese quince, Chaenomeles japonica, that grows against a weathered cedar fence at the back of the garden. Years ago, I saw a photo similar to this in a calendar and determined to reproduce the effect in my own garden. Unlike many horticultural intentions, this one has actually succeeded.

Japanese quince Chaenomeles japonica March 2019 against weathered cedar fence
Japanese quince flowers with weathered fence behind.
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52 comments

    1. Thank you! My original plants (varieties unknown) have self-seeded, so I have different shades of dark pink and purple, with a few speckled whites. But these three plants were developed by breeders and produced from tissue cultures. They will add to the pollen mix here, though, so who knows what might pop up in the future.

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  1. Audrey, first I love the title of your post -it’s inspired!! 😀 Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos of your precious Hellebores… they are divine, the petals almost paper thin and so tender! Gorgeous colours on all three! I’m quite envious (only kidding) as I only manage to get one plant of these to grow (barely). A treat to see all yours here! 😀🌺

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  2. These are amazing! The west coast of Canada is a perfect place to grow these gorgeous flowers. I had the best flower garden there. Your pictures are fabulous.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I’m growing these three in pots, as I do “Ivory Prince,” a similar type. The ones in the open beds have to contend with tree root competition, but they manage quite well. My cream-coloured one got battered by our cold, snowy, windy February, and looks it. The purple ones hadn’t quite started blooming by the end of January, so their buds escaped unharmed.

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  3. Wow, you’re quite a gardener. and botanist, too! It’s reflected in your books (noted it in Islands of the Gulf, Part 1). Love to read about your experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Roger. Hellebores are actually pretty easy to grow, either in pots (like these three new ones of mine) or in beds. They tolerate shade and a bit of drought too, and aren’t eaten by either rabbits or deer. Which is a good thing for those animals, since the plants are poisonous.

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        1. I’m of mixed minds about our group of urban deer. It’s a matter of guessing which plants they’re going to nibble before they actually do it and applying netting or prickly prunings as protection. (Unintended alliteration there.) 😃

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  4. My father used to always have a beautiful garden full of flowers. I have a good friend who has written a number of books on gardening. His name is Hank Bruce and his books on are Amazon. He’s pushing the advancement of the Moringa Tree in the third world as a good source of nutrition and gardening for seniors. Check him out.

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    1. The flowers stick around into May (fading a bit), but I generally cut the flowering stems down by June. January to April is prime time for hellebores, so in July they’ll just be clumps of leathery leaves.

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  5. Lovely photos, I was only introduced to Hellebores about ten years ago. They are though now one of my favourite plants. They have such delicate flowers that brighten up the garden in the late winter period.

    Liked by 1 person

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