In January there is not much for a gardener to do, but at the very least you can admire one of my favorite plants, the Lenten rose, or Hellebores. Named for the time that it normally blooms, it has begun its show early this year. I am not a winter person. I tend to hibernate in my home with all the lights on to get through the cold and dark months. I think I have come to love hellebores for the fact that its blooming signals that spring is close at hand. Well, not this year! My Lenten roses typically start blooming in late February or early March. But here we are on January 24, 2012 and they have been blooming for a couple of weeks now. What a strange, warm winter we are having!

Lenten roses are not roses, technically, but rather are evergreen perennials. These plants love shade and grow very well on the edge of a wood. They prefer fertile, well-drained soil containing lots of organic matter. Mine spread easily. When I transplant the new plants to other parts of my yard they grow quickly and bloom the second year that they are planted. They seem to be drought tolerant once established. And they are deer and vole proof, which is key in Chapelboro with our large herds of fat deer.

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