Now that winter is well and truly on its way, it’s sometimes a challenge to find plants that will flower in your garden throughout the next few months.
Well, the hellebore is one of my favourite plants for filling this brief…in particular, Helleborous niger, the Christmas rose.
The flower has five white or occasionally pink petals with golden stamens. And ‘Potter’s Wheel’ is a particularly lovely variety, with huge white blooms.
Admittedly, it is a little bit of a challenge to get it to flower around December 25th. But if you’d really like it to flower on schedule, Alan Titchmarsh recommends that you buy plants that are in bud just before Christmas, then grow them in pots in your greenhouse, so that they open on time.
Helleborous orientalis, also known as the Lenten rose, is popular as well. Hybrids are available in colours ranging from slate grey, near-black, deep purple and plum, to red, pink, yellow, white and green.
Generally, hellebores like well-drained soil in a sheltered spot in light shade. Many varieties, Helleborus foetidus in particular, are tolerant of dry shade where normally it’s a real challenge to get anything to grow. They’re great on chalky soils too.
Hellebores look wonderful planted in groups under trees or within a woodland planting scheme with other early-flowering plants or bulbs such as narcissi, snowdrops and primulas. Make sure you protect them from snails and slugs though!
And do take care when handling these beautiful plants…they’re toxic and the sap can cause skin irritation.
By the way, did you know that certain varieties of hellebore are available as cut flowers? In particular, Helleborus niger and Helleborous orientalis.
Hope you have a lovely weekend and see you on Monday!