The Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ (Lenten rose) are in bloom now, and their blossoms are as pretty as their foliage. The flowers are subtle shades of cream, muted pink and green. All six plants made it through a zone 3 winter, and a cold spring. I’ve been very impressed with this perennial’s hardiness and perseverance through repeated frosts. These attractive shade plants are great in the spring garden. Their name is Helleborus ‘Walhelivor’, but they are usually found under the marketing name of ‘Ivory Prince’. Either way, they are a very desirable plant.
Here is what a Helleborus leaf looked like back in December under the snow. It resembles a sea star, floating atop a frozen ocean. The stiff leaves hold the snow without crumpling.
The Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ were remarkably preserved in April, retaining the leaves from last year, to give a wonderful burst of early green. This photo shows the red stems on April 17, with a few new leaves and buds emerging from the centre of the plant.
This picture shows what great shape the Ivory Prince leaves were in after winter. I think the fallen leaf cover and snow helped to protect the perennial, because I’ve heard that Hellebores don’t normally do well on the prairies, or in zone 3, but these have done exceedingly well so far. Perhaps the shelter of a garden, with fences and houses around, and trees overhead help protect them from the drying winds, or perhaps Ivory Prince is better adapted for this climate.
We had a cold snap at the end of April, and the temperatures went down to -15 C (5 F) with the windchill. I had already removed the winter leaf layer, and the new Helleborus sprouts were exposed overnight. My timing was not good though, since I put some leaf cover back over the hellebore plants after the coldest night. Here they are protected by leaves, with snow over top. I wouldn’t bother covering them back up in spring again, as they seem to have done just fine anyways. I should have left the winter leaves over half of them, and uncovered the rest, to see if there would be any difference in their growth.
Here are the pretty new Helleborus buds at the beginning of May. I love the dark red stems, contrasting with the green foliage. The buds look wonderful, with their burgundy pink outside sepals, and creamy pink tips.
The lovely cream coloured blooms, with hints of green, are revealed as the sepals open on the Ivory Prince. The colour variations are delicious, and add to the charm of the flowers. Most of the flowers face outwards or even up, so they are easy to see.
This is part of a group of six Hellebore plants. I’m pleased with how these perennials are filling in, as they just start the season. You can just see some Galanthus elwesii (snowdrops) behind the group. They have been blooming for about as long as the Helleborus. The other surrounding perennials have not developed yet.
Above you can see a Helleborus covered in beautiful blooms. They are very striking, and besides the Puschkinia (striped squills), they are the most noticeable flowers in the garden right now. My other early perennials, Brunnera (Siberian bugloss) and Pulmonaria (lungwort), are just beginning to open their first blue flowers. I would recommend Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ for a protected garden in zone 3, as they really extend the flower season, blooming before most early perennials. In a cold, late spring like this one, this is especially appreciated. The plant below is shown blooming on May 18, after a day of snow.