The blooms hide among the evergreen leaves, which are easy to see against the dormant winter landscape and brown mulch, especially when I’m hurrying into our out of the house. But today I stood in the shade of my tall Red Maple Tree while Magnolia May, the wonder beagle, did her business. And I saw them.
Lenten Roses, or Helleborus orientalis, are really easy to grow. They like to live in well-drained soil in partially- to fully-shady locales. They’re native to the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, but grow extremely well down in central North Carolina. In fact, down here the leaves are evergreen, so they’re pretty all year. Lenten roses are deer resistent, so they’re good to plant around the borders of your beds, especially in natural areas beneath taller trees and shrubs that’ll provide shade (like Japanese maples or in my case, camelias). Because they spread easily, they have the potential to become invasive–quickly.
In my garden, the Lenten roses range in color from pale, milky white to mauve, to a deep eggplant purple. In the fall I split the larger grouping of plants and share them with friends, which is a fun, inexpensive way to thin out your garden and to get a plant swap going. My friend, Peggy, likes to get mint and Lenten Roses from my garden, and I typically get hydrangea and daylilies from hers.
If you don’t have any in your garden, I recommend them for everyone.