Hellebores, such as this little beauty, are notoriously shy, hanging their heads modestly. Helleborus niger, the Christmas rose, is a flower which blooms in the depths of winter and is replete with Christian symbolism. The story goes that Madelon, a young shepherdess, could find no gift for the Christ child in the cold of winter. She searched for flowers, but finding none, wept to be empty handed. A passing angel took pity on the girl and parted the snow where the girl’s tears had fallen. There she saw pretty white flowers tinged with pink. Overjoyed, Madelon presented the flowers to the baby in the manger.
It is also the sacred flower of St. Agnes, a young girl beheaded for her faith during Diocletian’s reign and a revered early Christian martyr. She is the patroness of purity, chastity, betrothed couples,virgins, and rape victims.
Helleborus niger is best planted where its roots will not become waterlogged (difficult in our wet winters). Otherwise, it is a relatively easy plant to grow and makes a beautiful addition to the garden during the drabness of winter. According to legend, you should plant this near your front door for good fortune and to welcome the Christ child.