Northern Shade Gardening

An Upward Facing Hellebore

Monday, May 23, 2011 Category: Perennials

Helleborus ‘Walhelivor’ (‘Ivory Prince’ hellebore) has a super combination of traits, with attractive flowers, great looking leaves, attractive red stems, a long flowering time, evergreen leaves, and surprising hardiness. Although hellebores are not always considered hardy on the prairies, I’ve found ‘Ivory Prince to be very hardy, down to -40º C (-40º F).

One of my favourite parts of this hellebore are the giant rose pink buds that appear so early in the spring. The ice and snow will be melting at the edge of the leaves, and then the fat buds will start to rise up. Even before they open, they are very appealing, and add instant colour to the left over fall leaves.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' showing true flower

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' showing true flower

The flowers themselves are the small clusters in the middle, while what look like petals are the large decorative bracts around them. It’s the bracts that stay on the plants for so long. In my northern garden, they often stay on right until fall, fading to yellow and looking very much like real flowers.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' with cream pink and green flowers

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' with cream pink and green flowers

What’s especially good about the flowers on this particular hellebore, is that they face upwards and outwards, so they can be admired easily. The petals are a combination of cream, green and pink, set off against the dark green leaves.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' with little Chionodoxa

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' with little Chionodoxa

My plants have been slowly expanding in this tough spot, and now make a good sized clump. The photo above shows about three of the group. Not many perennials are happy  growing 60 cm (a few feet) away from a willow trunk, but the hellebores don’t complain. They get an hour or two of direct early light morning light, with the the sun low in the sky. After that they get a bit of dappled light that filters through the willow leaves.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' flower closeup

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' flower closeup

All of my ‘Ivory Prince’ have survived three zone 3 winters with no problems. We do get good snow coverage, which helps to insulate them. I also leave the fall leaves over the plants for additional protection, removing the fallen willow leaves in spring. It’s possible that they wouldn’t do as well on the wind swept open prairie, but they are very hardy in an enclosed garden.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' with spring bulbs behind

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' with spring bulbs behind

To the south of this group are some spring bulbs. You can see the Puschkinia (striped squills) and Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) in the background.  This clump of hellebores have expanded, so the little Chionodoxa mingle right at the edges now. The red stems are visible in the shot above, making a good contrast with the green leaves.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' just opening

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' just opening

This is a flashback to when the ‘Ivory Prince’ flowers were first opening, with lots of buds still showing pink on the outside, and a little Chionodoxa flower in the bottom left. The leaves are about 20 cm (8 in) tall and the flowers are around 25 cm (10 in) in height. The plants are up to 60 cm (24 in) wide.

Helleborus ‘Walhelivor’ is a particularly charming hellebore, with all of its parts being highly decorative. From the moment the snow melts to show the evergreen leaves, it takes centre stage, continuing to look good through the summer and fall. There are more pictures and information about this hellebore in this post from last year.

13 Responses to “An Upward Facing Hellebore” »

  1. Marit :
    May 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Your ‘Ivory Prince’ is a beauty! I have never seen that one before. It is so many different of them, but all of them is so lovely.

  2. Northern Shade :
    May 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Marit, it has terrific looking leaves and flowers. You might see it under the scientific name of ‘Walhelivor’, as I’m not sure if the marketing name of ‘Ivory Prince’ is used in all areas.

  3. Rebecca @ In The Garden :
    May 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Gorgeous foliage! How nice to them to face upwards, no need to lie on the ground to admire the blooms. :)

  4. Northern Shade :
    May 23, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Rebecca, the flowers are quite noticeable from across the garden, since they are held above the leaves as well. They are getting competition now, as the other perennials start to open.

  5. The Garden Ms. S :
    May 23, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Very nice trait that they face upwards. I remember admiring a hillside of helleborus at the Japanese garden at the Butchart Gardens and I practically had to lay against the bottomside of the hill to get a good view. Lovely photos of a lovely plant!

  6. Northern Shade :
    May 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    The Garden Ms. S, some plants make you work to admire their flowers, especially the little snowdrops. The combination of colour tones of the blooms on this hellebore is quite pretty. The leftover yellow sepals go well with the ferns and Brunnera later on, too.

    Billie Jo, you should be very pleased with your new perennials. ‘Ivory Prince’ has been much hardier than I anticipated, and they have survived 3 zone 3 winters with no problems. In fact, the snow cover is a bonus, as it seems to keep the evergreen leaves in great shape. I don’t have to remove very many in the spring. It intrigues me that broad leaves can overwinter here and still function in the spring. I give these some supplemental water, but otherwise they do just fine under the willow.

  7. Billie Jo :
    May 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I was so excited to see this post! I just planted the same variety in my woodland shade garden in zone 3 as well, and ironically, also under the branches of a willow tree! I’m looking forward to it’s arrival next spring.

  8. Jan@Thanks for today. :
    May 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Hi N.S., I think Ivory Prince is a wonderful Hellebore. I have 2 of them and just love their leaves, their ivory/pink shade, and the way the flowers stand out and up. There are still a couple of blooms on mine, even though their ‘season’ has passed. Enjoyed your description and info;-)

  9. Northern Shade :
    May 24, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Jan, I like their marbled leaves as well, because they have a stiff texture of real substance. The remains of the bloom hang on for a long time here, too, sometimes until fall.

  10. VW :
    May 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I learned this winter that hellebores generally have downward facing blooms since they flower in such adverse weather conditions. If they faced upward, they’d catch the rain and snowmelt and the flowers would rot. Makes sense, but I hadn’t thought of it before. I have Ivory Prince and love it, too. Your pix are great!

  11. Northern Shade :
    May 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    VW, the downward facing flowers make sense as a hellebore adaptation to snow, I suppose that the same would hold true for the snowdrops. Since Ivory Prince is dependent on propagation by division or tissue culture, it won’t have to worry about.

  12. PlantPostings :
    May 24, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Gorgeous!I love the tint of the petals — kind of a peachy, pink. They seem old-fashioned and welcoming.

  13. Northern Shade :
    May 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Plant Postings, the mixture of colours is great, and suits the shady woodland setting. Now the blue Brunnera flowers have opened next to them.

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