It’s January, and here in the northern reaches of North America we don’t expect to find flowers blooming. And yet one plant in my garden is trying to do just that: Helleborus niger, commonly called the Christmas rose. It blooms at Christmas for gardeners in Great Britain. They were the ones who named it.
My Christmas rose starts budding up in November.It probably would have been blooming on the U.S. Thanksgiving Day, except there was snow piled on it by then. However, in the past week we have had a thaw–above freezing temperatures and several days of rain. The flowers are still there, and I think perhaps they have opened a bit more. Above-freezing temperatures are predicted for the next ten days, so I just may see these blossoms open. In January!
The nursery that sold me ‘Thanksgiving Bloom’ is no longer in business, so I can’t point you to a source. In general this hellebore species blooms either very late fall or very early spring–what would be equivalent to December in Great Britain, weather-wise. Even hybrids that have H. niger in their parentage will bloom much earlier, so they are worth seeking out as well. It is hardy to USDA Zone 3 and likes well-drained soil with lots of organic matter. It is more slow growing than many spring-blooming hellebore hybrids, so be patient. Mine was transplanted from the old house in 2012. I almost lost it, and it has finally regained its former health.
The Christmas rose probably won’t bloom for you at Christmas, but it will bloom earlier than any other plant in your garden, except maybe snowdrops.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens. Check it out at May Dreams Gardens.