With most gardens in their Winter slumber at this time of year, plants which are brave enough to flower are invaluable for adding wonderful, much-needed colour and interest – and this includes the heavenly hellebore!
Also known as the Christmas or Lenten Rose, these elegant plants display their saucer-shaped flowers during late Winter and early Spring (sometimes while covered in snow!) and are perfect for the woodland garden and for brightening up shady areas. They’re fully hardy too, and although the beautiful flowers may look delicate and plants may droop a little when it freezes, they remain completely unaffected by Winter snow and frost and soon perk up when the temperatures recover.
There are lots of varieties of hellebore to choose from, some have different leaf shapes, and some are evergreen too, so they’ll continue to contribute to the garden throughout the year, even when they’re not in flower. But when they do flower – either with single or double blooms and some with the most intricate markings – they offer a glorious range of colours from white, through to yellow and apricot, pink and dark purple and even slate black! And don’t worry if you think that hellebores have a habit of ‘hiding’ their flowers amongst their foliage, simply choose a modern variety which has more upright, taller flowering stems that enable you to enjoy their wonderful display more easily.
And if all that isn’t enough, they’re easy to grow too!
Planting tips and care
- Hellebores prefer rich, well-drained soil – so avoid a dry or water-logged site.
- Pick a planting spot sheltered from strong, cold winds in dappled shade.
- After flowering, deadhead the spent flowers, then feed with blood, fish and bone and then mulch with well-rotted leafmould, compost or bark chips to lock in moisture.
- Be on the look-out for slugs and snails as they do have a tendency to nibble the flower buds!
- Hellebores are perfect plants for Winter-interest containers – and don’t forget to position the container close to the house, so that you can enjoy the display whatever the weather.
- Large clumps can be increased by division in early Spring, although many professional growers also divide in Autumn.
- For the best results, ensure that clumps are split into pieces of a reasonable size with at least one growing point and water them well until they’re established in their new position.
- Newly divided plants may be slow to establish and flowering may be poor in the first year but be patient and don’t worry, they should bounce back!
- Or choose to let nature take its course, as hellebores will readily self-seed too – so once you have one, you can count on having more!
If you’d like to enjoy a glorious display of hellebore and you happen to be visiting Lancashire or the South West during January, then Gresgarth Hall (Lancs) and the Bosvigo Gardens (Cornwall) both noted for their hellebore displays.
And now you’re hooked on hellebores, come and check out great range – available in-store NOW!