The ghost of Christmas past is hanging around in my garden in August.
It’s taking the form of the faded sepals of a flower on Helleborus niger, the Christmas Rose.
The Christmas Rose, once the flower of Christmas before Poinsettias came along, gets its name because it blooms in the wintertime.
If you are lucky and choose just the right spot, and the weather holds, and the garden fairies are happy, you’ll find a few Christmas roses, or at least their big fat buds, on Christmas day. (And if you garden in hardiness zones 3 through 8, which is the general range for Helleborus niger.)
You may also find a Christmas rose for sale at your local garden center now, not in full bloom but sitting in a pot with the promise of foliage that at least stays evergreen through the winter. They might even be marked down for an end-of-season sale if they have them.
Super gardener hint: Look for them with shade-loving plants; if you don’t find them, ask someone if they have them. If they don’t, your question may plant the seed in their minds that people are looking to buy Hellebores in general.
If you find one, grab it, and choose a spot that is a bit shady all summer but gets some sun in the winter. That’s often under a deciduous tree, maybe not right under it, by toward the edge of the tree’s shaded area which is where my Christmas roses seem to grow quite well. It’s convenient that this spot is also on by the patio so I don’t have to venture out too far in winter to look for the flowers.
Plant it now to give it time to send out a few new roots before winter.
If that’s too much bother right now—it’s awfully hot out there, isn’t it?—you can take your chances and look for a blooming Christmas Rose at Christmas time when a few places will sell them as potted flowering plants. Enjoy it indoors, but don’t overwater it, and do watch for spider mites, which took up residence in one I bought one winter. When the weather warms up a bit in the spring, give it a few days in a sheltered spot and then plant it out where you want it to be for a Christmas yet to come.