Lenten rose (Helleborus x orientalis) is probably the earliest large flower in most northern gardens. It's also among the longest-blooming perennials, with bracts (those parts that look like petals) remaining colorful for many weeks, even after the flower itself (a relatively insignificant structure inside the cupped bracts) has become a seed pod. Sometimes the bloom begins in late March and appears to be still underway in early June.

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