Spring is just on the horizon, but before winter winds down, we want to give a shout out to those cold-weather bloomers that keep us going: hellebores. Just because they’re tough, doesn’t mean they’ve compromised on looks. In addition to their amazing hardiness as plants (many are frost resistant), hellebores have an impressive and unusual color range thanks to hybridization. They can be deep purple and antique green with specks, swirls and gradations, and we often buy a whole bunch at the market just to get our hands on that one special blossom. Some stems even made an appearance in one of our favorite bridal bouquets ever from this beautiful elopement video! For this week’s We Like It Wild, we rounded up a few of our favorite hellebore arrangements and visited our local nursery to get some tips on planting. And check out Weeder’s Digest from a while back for some more stunning specimens! — Studio Choo
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Hellebores can be short-lived as a cut flower, so we always enjoy them while we can! When we buy them at the flower market, they usually last about five days, but the ones we cut from our own gardens tend to last a bit longer. They can also be a little messy when the pollen starts to fall, so keep them on a wipeable surface if that sort of thing concerns you. Since the flowers nod (droop downward) to protect their pollen from the elements, they can be challenging to use in arrangements. They look stunning displayed in a bottle as a single stem in their natural nodding form, but we love to use them in combination with all sorts of things in arrangements and bouquets. The samples above include a cast of ranunculus, peonies, succulents and even basil. To showcase their faces more, we will often rest them right on top of another sturdier flower or piece of greenery. (And a note of caution: this plant is poisonous. The roots are especially toxic, so use caution around kids, pets, etc.)
Alethea spotted her first hellebore in her grandfather’s garden under a shady tree and instantly fell in love with its saw-toothed leaves and delicate, unusually colored flowers. We are lucky enough to have a few modest hellebore plants in our gardens now; the images above are of our homegrown specimens. If we had more time and space, we’d like to order from this amazing wholesale grower in Oregon who has a collection of drool-worthy varieties. Apricot Blush? Yes, please. Jade Star? Um, yeeah. Onyx Odyssey? NEED IT!
On a recent visit to one of our favorite Bay Area plant spots, Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, we spoke with some knowledgeable lads about the care of their many varieties of hellebores. These plants are deer resistant, and a good soil base makes them happy. Hellebores aren’t too picky about where they live; they do best outside in the garden but can also be great potted plants. They actually don’t mind if it’s a bit shady, making them perfect for gardens and yards lacking light. But the accommodating hellebores will take some sun, too. We wish all houseguests were so easy.