Covering Ground with Hellebores


With varieties that flower in every hue from wine red to lime green, hellebores are one of the most versatile perennials we’ve found. Even better, they’ll happily take their vivid blooms almost anywhere in the garden, thriving in shade and deterring hungry critters. Three years ago, our creative director Greg began using these springtime standouts in an unusual way-- as colorful and hardy groundcover.

In search of cover for a large, shady part of his garden, Greg made a list of the attributes he needed in a new planting. Shade and drought tolerance, deer resistance, evergreen foliage, and the ability to mass plant were priorities-- a tall order! He found all these qualities in hellebores, and selected 100 plants in a mixture of colors. Though he admits that hellebores can be a big investment at first, they multiply and transplant well, so groundcover is easy to expand over time.

Considering the gloomy weather still outside our windows, we were surprised to learn that hellebores are already blooming! Blossoms emerge from February through April, and can remain on plants until midsummer. One more perk? If you choose an assortment of colors, the plants will cross-pollinate and suprise you with blooms in new hues each spring.

Inspired by Greg’s garden, we asked terrain’s head plant buyer Steve to help us choose a few hellebores for our own landscapes. His favorites included:

‘Golden Lotus’: Yellow hellebores are uncommon in the garden, so ‘Golden Lotus’ is remarkable from the start. Even better, it reliably reblooms in the yellow color range, and also has double flowers.

‘Pink Frost’: ‘Pink Frost’ flowers open light pink and mature to a deep red. The slow and gradual color change really commands your attention while this variety is in bloom.

‘Peppermint Ice’: This hellebore has several interesting features. Dark pink veining on its soft pink petals and an anemone center make it stand out far above the rest, as do its large, double nodding flowers.

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