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Hell-of-a-Borus

Latin proudly remembered...and some planting tips

Latin names can be difficult to remember, but if you toy with them, you can trick yourself into memorizing associations. As the title suggests, this is how I remember Helleborus species, one of my favorite late winter/early spring bloomers that is quite easy to grow in most California locations.

Helleborus hail from several countries throughout Europe but particularly those influenced by the Mediterranean climate.


Preferring shade, they produce prolific blooms right when we’re ready to be pulled from the doldrums of winter. Whites, purples, pinks, and even green blooms are long lasting cut flowers that, like Hydrangeas, can last beyond reason as they slowly wither. The plants are deer resistant, too.

Yesterday, I found myself at Annie’s Annuals for a bit of retail therapy. So many Helleborus that it was a difficult choice! We have a bare area under a solitary remnant of our 1950s era landscape, a “you betchya” Betula pendula. See how I remember this name? Anyway, we planted several clumps of “narcs”, or Narcissus, under our tree…birch and daffodils are a classic combination…but once the Narcissus go dormant there is nothing left to see for the rest of the year. This is where the Helleborus come in. After a short dormancy, they will emerge with beautiful greenery for the rest of the year. In the right conditions, several species will even reseed if the flowers are not removed beforehand.


I decided upon the difficult to find Helleborus orientalis ‘Sparkling Diamond’, extending the whites of tree bark and flowering bulbs (Narcissus are not just yellow but are available in white, cream, green, coral, salmon, etc.). For this area, white is the theme. We’re going to amass sixteen new plants planted about two feet apart in a triangular spacing to give them a more natural appearance. Planting them gives me something to look forward to this upcoming year…lush green covering bare soil followed by next year’s blooms. Gardening requires patience; knowing the anticipated reward is worth the wait.

TELCS