the lenten rose

hellebores | neely wang

Our family took a short road trip to Mendocino, California, off the Pacific coast. One of the things I really wanted to do was visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Not surprisingly, my husband did not share my excitement nor did our kids. Nevertheless, my husband was sweet enough to take our boys to a nearby water park, while I went to the gardens to wander for a few hours. I was really looking forward to this — no kids distracting me, I could take my time, and I actually had my full camera gear with me for a change.

As I entered the garden with a spring in my step, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. There was nothing at all to see! Just grass and brown barren branches. Where were these famed dahlias? Blooming roses? Lush gardens? I saw pictures of them in the tour books I grabbed from the hotel — where were they now?

Silly me forgot that it was February… and still winter. Everything was very uninspiring and dull, and truthfully, I felt as if this was a wasted trip — until this beautiful lenten rose (also known as hellebores or christmas rose) caught my eye. I love its soft delicate petals and pale muted color. Lenten roses are known for its downward facing blossoms, but one looked up at me as if to say, “Cheer up, my dear. Spring is coming!”

the lenten rose | neely wang


  1. Beautiful sharing,Neely!! I love these lenten rose. Seeing them through your eyes is delightful,and again I love your micro piece (the second one)!! Beautifully done!!!

  2. I’ve always loved pink and green together and the muted colors in your photo are just the best! Muted, sweet, calm pink and green…. ahhh….

    • I agree — pink and green is such a beautiful color combination, especially when the colors are soft and pale. There are a lot of different varieties of lenten roses, but the colors of this one make it my favorite :)

  3. Beautiful image Neely. I know christ roses from my country ( Germany), I always loved them. They literally blossom in winter times even when the ground is frozen and covered with snow. We bring bouques of christ roses arranged with little branches of fir trees as when we were invited for christmas celebrations. I am glad that you discovered this beautiful treasure hidden in the botanical garden.

    • Thank you for sharing your sweet tradition, Cornerlia! I can imagine how beautiful they’d be in bouquets — a bit of life in the dead of winter.

  4. Neely, I just want to let you know that I have been viewing your beautiful photography. I thank God that I am blessed with such a talented daughter-in-law who helps me see God’s amazing creation through your camera and that special “eye” of yours!! Keep them coming!!

    • Thank you, Mom! And thank you always for all the encouragement and support! I really do hope to inspire and bring praise to the Creator in every photo I take.

  5. Your story about going to the garden and being a little disappointed in the middle of winter reminds me of when I went to the Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City at the end of January last year, when the ground was covered with snow and it was about 15 degrees out. We were probably the only paying customers that day…what were we thinking?! Anyways, love the first photo!

    • Ha Ha — thanks for sharing your story! Surprisingly, there were quite a few people at the garden the day I went, but I’m not sure what they were looking at ;)

  6. What a nice photo! We were just in Mendocino. Passed by the Botanical Garden and didn’t even go in. I think I’ve been spoiled by other gardens, like the Huntington Library in San Marino.

    • Thank you, Catherine! How funny that you were just there — did you enjoy Mendocino? I would love to visit the Huntington Library! I bet southern California has gardens in bloom year round.

  7. Neely, what a graceful capture from your day trip. Your story of heading to a natural spot, expecting to see it in full bloom (even out of season) reminds me of a trip we made with our French exchange student to the cornfields where the movie, Field of Dreams was filmed. We went in late spring, and Pierre was hoping to get dramatic shots of himself emerging from the tall corn. But in the spring, the corn was still rather short. :)

    Somehow the petals of the Lenten Rose remind me of a Hydrangea. Stunning as always!

    • Thanks, Tricia! I’m not sure what I was thinking that day… or rather not thinking :) I think we often see things in movies or other photos and expect a place to look the same, even though the moment captured was only an instant and fleeting. Too bad Pierre was unable to get his dramatic shots… just means you need a return visit in the summer!

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