Hellebore (Helleborus), also called Christmas rose, is one of the earliest bloomers in shady gardens. Look for its burgundy, pink, cream, green, or white flowers in late winter or early spring. Although it looks delicate, the Christmas rose is quite sturdy once it gets established. And, it's deer- and rabbit-resistant. Hellebore grows best in Zones 4-8 and grows 12 inches tall.