Hellebores (Helleborus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9) are a varied group of shade-loving perennials admired by the Northern Californian gardener for their mounding growth habit, attractive foliage, and exceptional resistance to deer, rabbits, and snails (though they do make a great hiding place for those slimy pests). Evergreen and drought-tolerant, they also tolerate a wide range of temperatures and soil types. But their bloom period—when very little else is brightening up the garden—and their remarkable flowers are traits for which they are truly cherished. Hellebores bloom in profusion from winter to spring. They have cuplike, nodding flowers—ranging from single to double—that are held aloft on the tips of sturdy stems either right in the thick of the bushy foliage or a little above it. They also come in an impressive range of colors, from snow white to slate black and almost everything in between. Some of the newer hybrids even…
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