December 23, 2009 | Mike Kintgen, Curator of Alpine Collections

helleborus niger
Christmas rose, or Helleborus niger, was hidden at the bottom of my last blog and didn't get just attention. Christmas rose is often cited as the actual "rose" that inspired the German Christmas carol 'Es ist ein Ros entsprungen' or translated into the English Christmas song ' Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming.'  Whether or not it is the actual flower mentioned in the song, it doesn't take a horticulturist to tell you that there is not much blooming outside the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory these days at Denver Botanic Gardens.  Helleborus however are one genus that brighten the coldest and shortest days of the year.  While most species and hybrids wait until at least February to bloom in Denver, certain clones and strains of Helleborus niger can start as early as Thanksgiving some years. The particular clone in the photo above always blooms a good month before its fellow members elsewhere in the Gardens.

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