Hellebore Heaven

I am sure you realise that I like a rather muddly garden and the Hellebore fits in perfectly with this approach.

First off, you should congratulate me for spelling the name of this plant correctly! For years, I have had it wrong and to my shame I can admit to misspelling the name on a flower sampler. When it was pointed out in my lovingly done stitches, I probably blushed the deepest shade of pink since my teens – and indeed deeper than the deepest Hellebore pink! 

I discovered these fascinating plants when a friend helped me plant our tiny courtyard garden in our first little cottage in Fairford. She was in the middle of a course on garden design and we were happy to be her guinea pigs. 

I have referred to the Beeb and the Gardener’s World planting advice and I have been thrilled with the results. I am sure you already realise that I like a rather muddly garden and the Hellebore (or Christmas Rose) fits in perfectly with this approach.

Fortunately, Hellebores are easy to grow and are undemanding. They look good from January to May – even when their seed has set, their sepals are persistently handsome, eventually becoming green. Their foliage is bold and evergreen, and in some of the new hybrids, the marbled leaves are just as celebrated as the flowers. 

Part of the joy of these flowers is that they flower in the most dismal months of the year and really do lift your spirits. After the disaster with the trellis last year, I planted two varieties in my stone trough in the courtyard and they are now really pretty.  The flowers are rich in nectar and pollen and at a time when there is very little else flowering, they are life savers for bumblebees.

My Hellebores Niger (the snowy white version) has the unusual knack of facing upwards more than is usual. All my other plants have downward-facing flowers, which not only does this protect the pollen from winter rains but it also offers shelter to the attendant insect while it feeds.

If your appreciation of Hellebores is more indoor than out, they do make wonderful cut flowers. I’ve been enjoying a vase of them on my kitchen island this week. I have also dug out a little chart for you to stitch some if you would like – I’ve avoided adding any writing this time…

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