Northern Shade Gardening

Alluring Helleborus Ivory Prince

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 Category: Perennials
Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 beautiful blooms

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 beautiful blooms

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' Dec 21 under snow

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' Dec 21 under snow

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' April 17 red stems

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' April 17 red stems

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' April 18 with foliage from last year still

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' April 18 with foliage from last year still

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' April 23 under leaves and snow

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' April 23 under leaves and snow

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 2 red stems

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 2 red stems

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 flower closeup

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 flower closeup

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 plant group

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 plant group

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.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 lots of beautiful blooms

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' May 16 lots of beautiful blooms

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.

Here is another article I wrote with more information about Ivory Prince hellebore, and you can see how Helleborus look in late fall here.

Helleborus ‘walhelivor’ (Ivory Prince Lenten rose) blooming after the snow

Helleborus ‘walhelivor’ (Ivory Prince Lenten rose) blooming after the snow

22 Responses to “Alluring Helleborus Ivory Prince” »

  1. Sandy Blaxland :
    May 20, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Those are really pretty. I’ve got lots of shade in my garden and I’m always looking for new ideas. (I’m a 2-3 yr old gardener!) I’ll be looking fot this plant! Thank you.

  2. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Sandy, I’ve been really impressed with the plants. Those coloured sepals on the outside of the flower last a long time. Yesterday they were filled with snow, but today they still look good.

  3. Carol :
    May 20, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Wow! That snow star fish is amazing!! I love hellebores … and will look for your prince for sure… -15 in April!! Yikes! I will never complain of the cold again. So glad to have found you! Looking forward to seeing what grows in your climate!

  4. Gail :
    May 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Northern Shade…I haven’t heard anyone say anything negative about these beauties! I love them, too and hope they make it through the long, hot summer here in nashville! It’s wonderful to see their flower without lying on the ground. …and the snow star is a great capture! gail

  5. Jackie (Ellie Mae's Cottage) :
    May 20, 2009 at 10:28 am

    I’ll be looking for a Helleborus. I’d love to get one for my garden. Do you use any catalogs or online retailers to get your plants? If so, which ones do you recommend? You have such interesting plants. -Jackie

  6. Linda :
    May 20, 2009 at 11:18 am

    These have certainly been through a lot and are looking just beautiful. We complain about a few degrees of frost here, but -15 is significant.

  7. Joanne :
    May 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Your Helebors look lovely i have difficulty growing similar ones but do grow others and like that their bracts add interest to the garden for such a long period.
    My friend Alison lives in Edmondton and is still having problems with snow. it won’t be long before it has all gone.

  8. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Carol, I’m finding Ivory Prince to be more hardy than I anticipated. I was also surprised that they held their stems and leaves so stiff under the winter snow.

    Gail, I hope that yours take the heat that will be coming. I do like that the blooms and interiors are so visible. Perhaps so many early flowers have downward facing blooms to avoid being filled up with snow.

    Jackie, I’ve picked up all of my perennials locally, at a variety of greenhouses. We are fortunate to have some that get in good selections, and I make the rounds frequently to see what is in. I noticed that some selections I found last year are not around this year.

    Linda, we had more of the white stuff Monday, and the little upward facing Helleborus blooms were filled like snowcones. It’s gone now, and they are still looking good.

    Joanne, their long season of interest is a definite benefit. It will be interesting to see if the flowering shrubs still bloom well after the late temperature drops.

  9. Dave :
    May 20, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Wow – fantastic plants (and great pictures)!

    Have you noticed any bees coming to them? If the pollinators like them, then they would be perfect. If not, they still are grand.

    No sign of my Siberian bugloss yet, but they are all in the coldest shade on the north side of the house. This was their first winter, so I’m hoping they are just slow. The Jack Frost is one of my favourite foliage plants – and I would guess from your motif, that you hold it in similar high regard.

  10. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Dave, I haven’t really noticed many bees yet around my yard, but there are lots of ladybugs, and some cool looking beetles. I will watch the Helleborus and let you know.

    Jack Frost is one of my favourite foliage plants too. I love the intricate silver and green patterns. All 3 types of Brunnera are up in my yard, even the ones in the most shady locations. Most of them have lots of buds, and a few have started a few blue flowers. In the ninth picture, one of the smaller Brunnera is just visible at the back, next to the Galanthus. Jack Frost seems slightly ahead of Looking Glass and Mr. Morse, but they might have different light and warmth conditions.

  11. Shady Gardener :
    May 20, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    NS, I’ve just put Ivory Prince on my list! :-) I don’t know that I’ll be purchasing terribly many more plants, but you have given this one a great recommendation! I also like that the blossoms face upwards… might beat that crawling around on the hands and knees to photograph them! ha. It’s great to hear that your Brunnera, Pulmonaria, etc. are beginning to bloom!! Yea, Spring is at your house!! My heartleaf brunnera was the first thing, in the backyard beds, to grow this Spring. I was so far ahead of everything else, I was afraid it was a weed! ha. I have Jack Frost and (another whitish one), too. ;-) Happy Day!

  12. Pomona Belvedere :
    May 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of praise for ‘Ivory Prince’, but this is the most thorough yet (and yes, beautiful pictures). And I loved the snowy sea star! Flowers are beautiful, but plants have many other charms. (You’ve also filled me with a desire for ‘Jack Frost’, it is just so appealing, more than other brunneras I’ve seen.

  13. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Shady Gardener, my garden would have looked much barer in April and the past month without the Helleborus. Most of the pictures were taken from above, no tricks with mirrors under the blossoms, and I didn’t have to twist any up. I love the way the Brunnera and Pulmonaria are holding up despite the weather setbacks this week, soon there will be lots of blue, glorious blue.

    Pomona Belvedere, I find the fat buds of the Ivory Prince, with the dark bracts outside very appealing. The buds have almost pink coloured noses. It looks like there are more coming too. The stems have stayed that dark burgundy red, which is also very attractive.
    The detailed patterns of green veins on silver leaves of the Jack Frost are like works of art.

  14. The Garden Ms. S :
    May 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I am so thrilled you posted this! I have been eagerly waiting to hear more about your hellebores. It’s so nice to hear the background on how they managed through their first winter – and the pics are just lovely! This is one gorgeous plant that I am so happy is doing well in zone 3.

    Oh, and I love your snow star – simply sweet. :)

  15. Northern Shade :
    May 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    The Garden Ms. S, I would recommend it in zone 3, with some leaf cover for winter protection, in a protected garden. It looks like the blooms will be continuing for awhile. They bring the garden to life, when blooms are scarce.

  16. Kathleen :
    May 21, 2009 at 8:19 am

    What a great testimonial you’ve given for adding these beauties to the garden! I just added two hellebores this spring (since I had zero) but neither was ‘Ivory Prince.’ Looks like I missed the boat or maybe it’s not too late. Anything that comes thru a brutal winter & spring looking that good, is a necessity in my book! I hope it warms up for you soon. It’s been a strange spring here too but definitely no where near as cold as what you describe.

  17. Sisah :
    May 21, 2009 at 10:06 am

    First I wondered if your plant is the same as mine which I bought two years ago with the name Helleborus x ericsmithii – ‘HGC Silvermoon ’ , it looks very similar. As I found out ‘Ivory Prince’ is another Hybrid of Helleborus x nigersmitthii, never heard of that kind of hybridization. This seems to be an interesting form for my garden, too.
    Liebe Grüße
    Sisah

  18. Northern Shade :
    May 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Kathleen, it’s possible that last year’s foliage might not look as good, without leaf and snow cover, but I was impressed by how well it kept the old leaves here. Even when loaded with snow this week, the blooms (really the bracts) didn’t bend over. The buds and flowers make me smile whenever I spot them.

    Sisah, it seems to be a hybrid with many good qualities. Perhaps it’s more likely to be found as ‘Walhelivor’ in Germany. I’m not sure if they’d use the trademarked ‘Ivory Prince’ name in non-English countries or not. It gets confusing when a trademarked name is substituted for a proper variety or cultivar name. The scientific binomial name is more international.

  19. Barbara :
    May 24, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Even now that all my various helleborus plants have faded, they look – in my opinion – beautiful (that’s also a reason for collecting them). I appreciate their long lasting period of blooming. Your Ivory Prince will enjoy you till beginning of summer I guess.
    Barbara

  20. Northern Shade :
    May 24, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Barbara, I’ve become a big fan of these perennials, after seeing how they perform in my garden. The weather this year has been a good test of their hardiness. They are not supposed to do well around here, but these plants have done well with their leaves and blooms. I’m interested to see how long the flowers will last. I agree, the foliage will still look good after the flower bracts have gone.

  21. marley :
    October 21, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I have several of these beautiful [plants on the corner or my yard. The snow plough comes by regularly and throws sand and snow mixed with gravel over them!!! Should I cover them with anything other than leaves this winter. Thanks for any info.

  22. Northern Shade :
    October 21, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Marley, a layer of new fresh snow helps insulate them, and keep the drying winds from desiccating the somewhat evergreen leaves, but road snow wouldn’t be too good for them. There are probably hard chunks, and chemicals from car fluids in the ploughed material. Do they mix any salt in with the sand? It will be tough on the plants. A layer of deciduous leaves over top will probably help protect them, but they might be damaged. I’m not sure what other material would protect them. I wonder if a few evergreen boughs, like pine or spruce, overtop of the leaf cover would help protect them?

    When the plants start to bloom in winter or spring, depending on your zone, you can remove the old leaves if they are damaged. They also grow new ones in spring.

    It sounds like the garden is in a tough area, but on the other hand, everyone enjoys your beautiful garden, when it’s on the corner. Good luck with the Helleborus.

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