Garden Photo of the Day

A Plant Collector’s Spring, Part 2

More unusual early bloomers from a Michigan garden

Welcome to day two of rarities from Glen Pace’s collection in Birch Run, Mich. Yesterday we posted photos from Glen’s garden, where he grows lesser known varieties of standard favorites. Now, in spring, many of these early blooming plants are beginning to show up.

Tibetan hellebore (Helleborus thibetanus, Zones 5–8) is still a very rare hellebore. Though first discovered in the wild over 120 years ago, it had eluded plant hunters for years until it finally made its way into cultivation in the early 1990s. Most hellebores are native to rough, scrubby habitat and have thick, tough, evergreen leaves. This species grows in shaded, moist, woodland conditions and is a spring ephemeral, coming up early, blooming, and then going completely dormant in the summer.

Helleburus thibetanus blooms very early, with lovely pink flowers, and the new foliage has a lovely pink and silver hue.

Helleborus thibetanus flowers range from nearly white to pink. This is a particularly dark, richly colored rose form.

The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger, Zones 3–8) has beautiful pure white flowers, but this particular plant is a variegated form. The leaves are streaked and spotted with a subtle pattern of silvery pale green.

Hepatica × media (hybrid liverwort, Zones 5–8). Hepaticas are one of the great underappreciated early spring bloomers. Different species are native in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. They all want moist, rich, woodland soil and shade, and when happy they can put on incredible displays of early spring blooms. This hybrid form is vigorous and has masses of rich, blue flowers.

The Japanese hepatica, Hepatica japonica, has long been collected and selected in Asia. Sometimes fussy in the garden, this is a very nice pink selection.

Another selection of Hepatica japonica with dramatic bicolored pink flowers.

Double flowered forms are what REALLY get hepatica collectors excited! This Hepatica nobilis ‘Shirin’ is a slow grower and has taken years to settle in, but WOW, what a display of blooms!

Finally, a beautiful eastern U.S. native wildflower, the snow trillium (Trillium nivale, Zones 3–9). This beautiful little plant is native over a wide swath of the U.S. but is never very common. It is easy in the garden, however, and starts blooming nearly the same time as snowdrops each year.


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View Comments


  1. flowerladydi 04/11/2018

    I love all your spring beauties!,, and they must be especially pleasing this year with the cold lingering winter we have had! I am especially partial to the hellebores,, so pretty,, but love them all!! And kudos to you for labeling so well!,

  2. garden1953 04/11/2018

    Beautiful. I'll take one of each please!!

  3. Maggieat11 04/11/2018

    Lovely! Hellebores are one of my faves.... and I NEED to add some Hepatica! That double blue variety is a stunner.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 04/11/2018

    Wow! I have never seen a Tibetan hellebore - really didn't know they existed. And that snow trillium - gorgeous!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/11/2018

    I love the luminosity that the Hepatica nobilis ‘Shirin’ seems to's quite a charmer and well worth the wait to get an eye catching clump.

  6. User avater
    PKKing 04/11/2018

    Simply beautiful pictures. They fill me with inspiration to expand my hellebore "collection" and to try hepaticas. I think I have a spot in my yard that just might work. Thank you!

  7. User avater
    user-7007816 04/11/2018

    What a treat these plants must be on a cold gloomy Michigan day. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Sunshine111 04/11/2018

    Gorgeous! Stunning, beautiful! I am envious ?

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/11/2018

    What a lot of treasures. I'm trying to rectify the absence of Hepatica in my garden and I'm thrilled to see you growing Helleborus thibetanus. I've wanted it for a while, but for some reason was under the impression it was much more tender than other Hellebores. Zone 5 is a big surprise to me. Thanks for sharing your treasures.

  10. Cenepk10 04/11/2018

    Nice collection!!! That would make even Monty Don jealous.... Beauties all.

  11. Catasetumkid 04/11/2018

    Glen, what a fabulous collection! Love it! Very happy to see Michigan represented on this website. Plant collectors unite! :-)

  12. btucker9675 04/11/2018

    The blue hepatica is particularly beautiful... what a color!

  13. user-7003263 04/11/2018

    Lovely, thanks for sharing the pictures of your rare spring plants.

  14. schatzi 04/13/2018

    Glen, you have me drooling over your exotic hellebores and spring ephemerals! Gorgeous! I have about 40 hellebores, but not the species you have. Love the spring ephemerals too, and do not have enough of them. And - what everyone else said! Spectacular!

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