A letter from Sylvia
As you may have heard we have had a colder winter here than usual. We have had more frosts than I can count and snow. Look at my poor hellebore! But the hellebores don’t mind, though on a cold morning they looked like this. By the afternoon it was looking better.
These plants comes upright no matter how many times it gets flattened in the cold – I find it just fascinating, exciting, thrilling….!
These two pictures were taken on 1 Feb before the snow and 2 Feb in the afternoon. Now I know our frosts are mild compared with some areas, I don’t know how cold these plant will cope with or if they cope with hot summers. Hopefully someone will tell us.
Look at these beautiful flowers and colours – wouldn’t these earn a place in your garden at any time of the year (the above are a selection of flowers in my garden taken over the last 2 years). I know they would be in my garden even if they bloomed in summer but they bloom just when we need them most – winter. The first of my hellebores flowers just before the snowdrops in January. They don’t die down leaving a gap in the bed over summer but have leaves that make a good back drop to the summer flowers and stop me forgetting where they are! Now you see why they are my favourite plant – why are you not growing them Pomona?
There are several species, I have grown the green flowered Corsican hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) and our native Stinking hellebore (H. foetidus) in a previous garden and both are worth growing with lovely foliage. There are other newer varieties developed for their foliage. I also have the Christmas rose (H. niger) but it is a variable plant and mine doesn’t flower until February or March and is low growing. The species I love and grow lots of is the Lenten Rose (H. orientalis as it used to be called now renamed H. x hybridus). These are often seed raised and are variable. Luckily for me we have a specialist grower locally and his greenhouses are full of these plants all in flower. It is so difficult to decide on which ones to buy.
I bought my first hellebore hybrid many years ago and moved it to my present garden but it doesn’t flower until March. So I went early in the season, to the local nursery, a few years ago and bought some plants. They are fairly expensive but I had some Christmas money! I hoped that buying early would mean the plants flowered early and that is just what happened. While other hellebores are still just showing buds at ground level, this lovely dark double flowered one is at its best and like my iris is just in front of a window.
Did I mention that they flower for a long time gradually fading as the flowers age and the seeds ripen. They do self seed for me, they are easy to pull up if needed, the seedlings don’t transplant very well unless they are left for a few years to grow and then moved before they flower. I usually cut off the flowers in April or May to build up the plants, rather than allow them to seed.
Well, Pomona have I convinced you to find a place for these lovely plants? I have read that they don’t like to be moved but I have moved several without any problems, as they like to be left alone they are really easy plants. Visit Frances at Faire Garden for some great care tips, though I cut my leaves off in December as I have an earlier season. More hellebores for me, definitely, I have a red one that was new last year and hasn’t flowered yet (it was a present via mail order) and I want a creamy yellow one!
I do hope, you and all my blog friends that don’t have them already, will get some hellebores providing you have a suitable climate.
Best wishes Sylvia (England)