2005 perennial of the year: Helleborus x hybridus

The 2005 choice is Helleborus x hybridus from the Ranunculacae or buttercup family. The hellebore, or Lenten rose, prefers a shady or partly shady location (morning, not afternoon, sun) and organic, well-drained soil. Once established, it can withstand summer droughts with just a few waterings. It’s mid-sized, reaching 18 – 24 inches (45 – 60cm) tall and wide, with leathery evergreen foliage.

This early Spring bloomer comes in lots of colours – plums, reds, pink, yellows, whites, etc. – some single and some double blooms and is a great addition to a woodland garden, planted among spring bulbs and perennials.

Good news: deer do not eat hellebores; bad news, however: all parts of the plant are poisonous and also can cause skin irritation. Hardy to zone 5; a tough winter and an exposed planting could impact their performance.