Wednesday, April 6th, 2011...4:42 am

Winter Flowers – Part II

Helleborus niger ‘Praecox’by Tie Guy II

My very favorite winter flowering perennial plant is the very early winter blooming Hellebore. I cannot rave enough about this hardy perennial. The Hellebore is the plant that I greedily want more and more of growing in my yard. The earliest blooming ones are the Christmas rose Helleborus niger. Mine are spectacular and as they age, they are turning pink.

There are many Helleborus x hybridus that bloom from later winter to mid-spring that have different colors like pinks, purples or pale green and shapes with single flowers or double flowers. The flowers last for many weeks and are good as cut flowers. They can be planted in dense shade and deer don’t eat them. They can be grown almost anywhere in the US. No one has a black thumb when it comes to growing Hellebores. A nice thing about them is that they don’t like to be moved once planted- ideal for us lazy gardeners.

This is the time to plant them; though I bought some of mine late in the season on sale and most survived the terrible drought we had last fall.

There is another hardy winter flowering perennial, the Pulmonaria or lungwort- the ugly common name of the plant was given because early planters thought the leaf looked like the lung.  See here.  In fact the leaves have interest in the garden after the flowering period. The charming flowers on this plant that can become a ground cover are pinks and blues or pink and white. This plant grows in heavy, clay soil if that is your problem soil type and is great if you have a woodland garden.

Cyclamen coum by Paul Gulliver

A hardy tuber that blooms early is the Cyclamen coum that has pink, carmine-red or white flowers. Again the leaves are also of interest. See here.

Hepatica nobilis by Niko Herlin

And then there is a little used hardy perennial that is winter flowering. This is Hepatica nobilis (syn. Anemone hepatica) and is one of the earliest blooming native wildflowers (see here) of Eastern North America. It has pink, blue or white flowers and could look lovely in your garden.

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