One plant that might be found blooming very early in Spring, even before Skunk Cabbage according to a fellow garden enthusiast from New York State, is known as Hellebore.
Hellebores are so hardy they may even be found blooming in the middle of winter. Now, I haven’t seen it myself, but others report that hellebores can even bloom when it’s snowing out!
Hellebores, of the genus Helleborus, are native to the Far East. They’re members of the Buttercup Family, Ranunculaceae.
Low-growing palmate leaves overwinter among the leaf litter in this perennial plant. The large basal leaves sustain the plant through winter and help to give the flowers an early start in Spring.
Its blossoms can be missed for they start out life as flower buds with their heads pointing down.
Large sepals hide the colorful petals until the flower finds conditions ready for it to open.
As the flowering stems grow in height, the flower blossoms turn upward, but only partially. They always have a dangling look to them and often need a helping hand to be seen.
I liked the idea of extending the flowering season by having some hellebore flowers in the garden during a time when nothing else might be blooming.
A couple of years ago I planted this maroon-flowering hellebore in a sunny location near some purple coneflowers in a flower bed. The coneflowers are just starting to develop their leaves and have a long way to grow before they flower.
The hellebore isn’t natural to Central Pennsylvania, but it does lend a smile on a cold day in March. 🙂
(Photos taken March 7 to 26, 2016. Click on any small image to see a larger view.)