My Helebore plants, whose common name is Lenten Rose, started blooming on February 15, the first day of Lent this year. Over the next few weeks many more blooms opened so that the plants are covered with them. I bought two plants from Gerdes many years ago and they have performed well over all these years. I was surprised this year because of the harsh winter,but it didn't seem to bother them. The plants thrive with a little morning sun and shade the rest of the day. My two specimens are shaded by a native pecan tree. At the OSU extension center several plants are on the north side of the building. The blooms will slowly fade to a cream color by the end of June and can be removed to provide an attractive green shrub in the shade garden. You might find a variety whose blooms turn up rather than looking like bells. Heleborus is an Oklahoma Proven plant.
Annabelle hydrangea is another great plant for shade or part shade. They provide a white bloom in the spring and the blooms last a long time. Unlike many hydrangeas this one blooms on new growth so that it can be pruned later in the season.
You might consider an Oakleaf hydrangea as well. It features a white bloom and is noted for the beautiful fall color of its large Oakleaf shaped foliage. Check the plant labels to determine the eventual size of the plants to be sure they will fit into the space you have available. Both of these hydrangeas need moisture, but not overly wet soils. I let a large Oakleaf hydrangea drown a couple of years ago when I didn’t get my gutter downspouts cleaned properly.
Japanese Painted Fern is another Oklahoma Proven perennial plant for full or partial shade. It typically reaches a height of 18 to 24 inches tall and wide. It can be used to fill in the shade garden, in a container, or several plants to be used as a ground cover. Japanese Painted Fern needs watering about once a week.
Finally, you may have read about the new Community Garden that is being established near the Cleo L. Craig Friendship House on West 7th Street. Gardening tools are needed for those who will be working the garden. Plans are to construct a shed at the site to hold tools. If you have an extra hoe, spade, rake, hand tool, or water hose that you could donate for this project, take them to the Community Renewal Office at 1000 N. Kickapoo Street. Their phone number is 405 273-1035.