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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.