The herbaceous perennial helleborus is represented by 20 or so species. It is a member of the ranunculus family. This incredible picture of a flower of Helleborus Corsicus, from about-garden.com, tells the tale. Hellebore flowers are comprised of 5 sepals, which persist in fruit. The fact that hellebores emerge from the ground and bloom very early in our gardening year is plenty enough reason to grow them. But the fact that the 5 sepals hang on for months-during and after the time that the flower sets seed-is even more compelling. The lustrous green foliage grows vigorously, and persists in my garden throughout the winter. My plants are virtually care free. They get sun, adequate moisture, and are protected from winter winds by an old stand of dwarf spruce-picea mucrunulatum. I have never divided them, nor do I feed them. I do spend plenty of time looking at them-they are that good looking.
I had a mind to grow helleborus argutifolius, as I am very fond of green flowers. This species grows quite tall, and features shiny and spiny leaves. I had no idea at the time that hellebores are divided into 2 groups-those that bloom on the leaf stalks like helleborus argutifolius, and those whose leafless flower stalks emerge from the ground in the spring. I was never successful with this hellebore-the Michigan winters invariably rotted the buds before they could open in the spring. I finally ripped them all out, in favor of those hellebores whose flowers were kept safely below ground until the freezing winter weather had passed.
Helleborus viridis is fairly uncommon in the garden. It is usually the darkest green, and the shortest of the green hellebores. You can find excellent photographs and descriptions via Graham Rice. http://www.grahamrice.com/hellebore/species/viridis/
Helleborus orientalis has in recent years been the subject of considerable hybridization. You can find beautiful green hellebores for sale at Carolyn’s Shade Garden, Pine Knot Farms, Plant Delights Nursery, Fraser’s Thimble Farms and Arrowhead Alpines. If you love green flowers, and perennial plants that are beautiful the entire season long, try some green hellebores. To follow is a collection of pictures that will give an idea of wide a range of green flowering cultivars are available.