In late winter I eagerly lift up the leathery leaves of my hellebore plants, seeking buds that will open in the warmth of the house. Some years, depending on the weather, I have even had hellebore flowers, commonly called Lenten Roses, in vases or float bowls inside as early as February.
Recently, I have expanded my hellebore plant inventory by buying the Winter Jewels™ collection hybridized by Marietta O'Byrne of Eugene, Oregon.
O'Byrne spent many years hand-crossing some of the best stock plants from around the world. Her hybrids have double blooms up to three inches across in unique colors.
The names are quite picturesque: sparkling diamond, peppermint ice, onyx odyssey, berry swirl, jade tiger, golden lotus and cotton candy, for example. Plants may seem pricey, but they bloom at a time when no other perennial in the garden is even awake.
These unique flowering plants make wonderful Valentine gifts for gardeners, if one buys a gift certificate or arranges ahead for shipment of the plants at the correct planting time in the gardener's region. I guarantee that the lucky recipient of these hellebore plants will be delighted when a card comes announcing you have ordered them for later shipment.
There is also a Brandywine hellebore mix developed by breeder and collector David Culp.
Any of these or other new hybrids is an excellent investment, as hellebore plants persist and bloom reliably for years and years in a garden.