Those are not adjectives I would previously have associated with hellebores. I'd have called them subtle--the soft, shaded matte colors do not photograph as well as they show in real life, and the blooms often peek shyly out from the middle of the foliage. I love them not because they're showy but because they're odd-looking; because they bloom early in the spring when there's not much else out, and because the deer seem to ignore them.
Of course, "the deer don't eat 'em" has become the core strategy of my gardening efforts these days. But that's another story.
Maybe my hellebores have finally settled in and this year is normal hellebore behavior. Maybe this year was perfect hellebore weather. Not sure what it is, but the hellebores have never been happier. I am used to having people stop and comment on my daffodils. You put somewhere upward of a thousand daffodil bulbs in the ground and you're going to get something that's at least a LITTLE impressive.
But this spring was the first time anyone ever stopped while walking by my yard not just to say how much they loved the daffodils but to ask, "What is THAT?" Pointing to one of the most exuberant hellebores. Heck, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one of the hellebores and thought, "Gee . . . I don't remember planting an azalea there." I actually wondered for a moment if one of my friends had done a drive-by azalea planting as an Easter present.
Along with "the deer don't like it," the other core tenet of my gardening philosophy is pragmatism. As in "Hey, that's doing well. Let's plant some more of that." I planted a dozen more hellebores over the last week or so.
. . . and more to come.