I love plants, I love gardening and I am always growing something. Every place I have lived has offered a new gardening adventure. And every place reveals a plant that, frankly, kicks ass in the garden.
In the Pacific Northwest, I’m going to say that plant is the hellebore.
Helleborus, commonly called Lenten Rose, is an evergreen perennial flowering plant. That’s garden speak for it looks pretty good all year round. But the really unusual characteristic is that it blooms in January-February. Yes, it blooms in winter. Showy blooms! Long-lasting blooms! It’s been a pretty mild winter here, so all of my hellebores look particularly good.
Pacific Northwest winters are rainy, and everything turns to a rather unattractive greenish-brown mush. But the hellebore keeps its good looks and rewards you with flowers well before most other plants. (Only the crocus can keep up with hellebores.)
Any plant that blooms outside in winter has my unconditional positive regard. Any flowering plant that deer don’t prefer gets an extra gold star. And another star for being shade tolerant. It’s a helluva plant! There are many colors, some with variegated leaves and others with double flowers. A Google image search will reveal the incredible variety.
Hellebores grow in zones 5-8b. (Olympia is in zone 8b.) you can find your gardening zone on the USDA website.