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Look at my Poor Hellebores!

A letter from Sylvia


 Dear Pomona,

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)


{ 30 comments… add one }

  • Frances February 16, 2009, 8:49 am

    Hi Pomona and Sylvia, there seems to be a delay in the loading of the photos today for some reason, and I have extra high speed too. No matter, these are some beauties and how lucky you are to have a good grower where you can purchase them and know what you are getting. All of mine are H. orientalis and one new H. niger. I have found the babies to transplant easily in winter, no matter how small. It is the summer and warm dry weather that causes them to pout. They do seem to love the cold. Thanks so much for the link love, my friends! :-)

  • kerri February 16, 2009, 9:30 am

    Hello Pomona and Sylvia, I’d so love to have as many beautiful hellebores as you do, Sylvia, but alas I only have one, and haven’t seen it bloom yet. I hope it survives the winter as it’s still only a tiny plant. You have some gorgeous colours. How lucky you are to have a grower close by. They’re not so easy to find in my neck of the woods unless I mail order.

  • Nancy Bond February 16, 2009, 1:17 pm

    Hello Girls! Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your Hellebores, Sylvia — they are wonderful, especially that deep burgundy bloom. And Pomona, thanks for sharing the letter. :)

  • Anna February 16, 2009, 4:00 pm

    Hello Pomona and Sylvia. You have some absolute gems there Sylvia and how lucky you are to have a local grower offering such a selection. I imagine that it’s a specialist hellebore grower with plants of that quality. It’s amazing how they manage to perk up after a hard frost – flattened one moment and standing proud the next. A really enjoyable post.

  • Flowergardengirl February 16, 2009, 4:36 pm

    Gosh Sylvia–what a grand post on Pomona’s blog. I love these helebors but I don’t have any.

  • Tyra February 17, 2009, 3:26 am

    Hello Pomona and Sylvia.

    They are so wonderful Sylvia, Like Pomona I don’t grow them either, I’ve just got some green once that I got from a friend. But after looking at all the bloggers most wonderful picture I do have to buy some more.

    That picture with the red Helleborus and the snow is fantastic.

    Take Care girls/ Tyra

  • Carol, May Dreams Gardens February 17, 2009, 3:34 am

    I live where we have cold winters, so not all hellebores are hardy for me. But I still have two and love them for all the reasons you gave Syliva. Mine will bloom in mid-March. I’ll cut back the old foliage in another week or so.

    If anyone reads this letter and doesn’t try to grow at least one Hellebore, well, there is something wrong with them!

  • Sylvia (England) February 17, 2009, 3:52 am

    Frances, I don’t grow a lot of seedlings because I don’t have a big garden and I like (want!) the different colours and flower shapes. I did pot up some white ones last year, I am hoping they will come up this year. I have found they take 3 or more years to flower.

    Nancy, it is kind of Pomona to put up these post – I do appreciate it.

    Anna and Anna (FlowerGardenGirl) I do love these plants, they always amaze me that they flower in winter/early spring and have such a range of colours and flower shapes.

    Tyra, I hope you will put these on your wish list, I find they are very tempting when I have Christmas money to spend. I was delighted with the picture of the snow, it is the first year we have had snow since I bought the red hellebore.

    Carol, thank you for a lovely comment. I think you should do the opposite to me – buy your hellebores late in the hope that they flower later. I would have thought they would be happy under a big blanket of snow.

    Thank you for all your lovely comments. Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • LindaLunda February 17, 2009, 4:04 am

    OOOOOOOOOHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh give to meeee!!!

  • Sylvia (England) February 17, 2009, 5:20 am

    Kerry, I hope your plant blooms soon, they can take a couple of years to flower if they are small. Our garden centres are selling more and more hellebores now but mail order is the best for names varieties. We have got a few from mail order as well as the local nursery.

    LindaLunda, I think you like hellebores! Glad you made a visit, thank you.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • blossom February 17, 2009, 6:08 am

    Hmm … i think this is my first time here. Thank you Sylvia for the link. I’m glad I landed here. Those hellebores are marvellously stunning. I believe we don’t have it in Malaysia. Will they survive our hot climate? How I wish I have them …

  • Racquel February 17, 2009, 6:44 am

    Hi Sylvia, your Hellebores are very lovely. I don’t know much about this early blooming perennial other than it is definitely on my wishlist! :)

  • Sylvia (England) February 17, 2009, 7:38 am

    Blossom, I would be surprised if hellebores would grow in your climate but don’t know for sure, they do seem to like the cold. Sometimes we can only dream – I see lots of your plants I have never heard of or seen.

    Racquel, I hope your wishlist is not as long as mine!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • Alice Joyce February 17, 2009, 7:43 am

    Sylvia and Pomona, thank you for this bevy of beauties! Alice

  • gail February 17, 2009, 8:30 am

    Wonderful post about my favorite non native bloomer in my garden! They really are delightful plants! Now you have me adding doubles to the list and my budget is already strained! gail

  • jodi (bloomingwriter) February 17, 2009, 10:28 am

    Sylvia, these are truly glorious. As others can attest, I’ve had a mixed bag of success with hellebores, mostly because the winter and spring here are so temperamental. Thanks to Frances at Faire Garden, however, I successfully nursed a real nice one through winter last year. Maybe it was better established when I bought and planted it, but it weathered our crabby season just fine and bloomed magnificently. Then for good measure, a species type I’d planted several years before and forgotten about popped up in another part of the garden and flowered too. This year, IF Ivory Prince has done well, I will succumb to the urge to get Goldfinch. I must write a post about this ongoing challenge of mine. As always, I enjoy it so much when you post, and thank you for all the comments you leave encouraging others, including myself.

  • Karen - An Artists Garden February 17, 2009, 12:32 pm

    Hi Sylvia and Pomona –
    Wonderful post Sylvia – Hellebores are my Desert Island plant. I had to leave my lovely ones behind when I moved house :( but there are a lot in this garden so thats OK.
    Last year I bought some rooted cuttings of double hellebores – so I don’t expect them to flower this year.
    Sylvia – You have some true beauties in your collection and they are lovely to see.

  • Northern Shade February 17, 2009, 3:54 pm

    You have beautiful collection of Helleborus. The last shots of your dark red one are just full of blooms. The collage highlights how pretty these flowers are.
    I planted H. ‘IvoryPrince’ last fall, but it might be borderline hardy in my area. I loved the way it looked under the trees, and I hope it will reappear this spring.

  • Jen February 17, 2009, 4:56 pm

    Hi, what a absolutely beautiful collection you have. The owner of the last nursery I worked for had a marvelous selection. But we did not have that many with double flowers. He would love to see yours. We did have the lady series, they were a little more pastel, and the super dark burgundies. But those frilly doubles have stolen my heart.

    A great post, beautiful pics.

  • Jane February 17, 2009, 7:45 pm

    Thanks, Sylvia, for suggesting I come here to look at your hellebores. Mine mostly look like you frozen ones after our miserable ice and snow here this winter. I wish mine were blooming already, but I have to wait at least another month yet. My first will be Hellebore thibetanus (I probably got that spelling wrong) which is a lovely light pink and which comes true from seed. All together we have about 250 hellebores in the gardens now.

  • Sylvia (England) February 18, 2009, 5:52 am

    Alice, thank you for dropping by.

    Gail, I have enthused myself as well, I would like some more! Confession I did buy one more at the weekend. H. Niger ‘silver dollar’. I bought it for the silvery foliage.

    Jodi, I am sorry that you can’t grow these plants easily. If they were summer flowering it wouldn’t be so annoying but as so few plants have this colour range and live as long, that flower in winter/early spring it is worth persevering. I look forward to your post – it is always interesting to read other peoples experiences.

    Karen, these seem to really like out climate. I am sorry that you had to leave a collection, if I move these are coming with me!

    Northern Shade, I do hope that your hellebore appears as well. I have seen H. ‘IvoryPrince’ but I don’t have it, yet! I could easily fill my garden with these plants!

    Jen, I know what you mean about doubles. When I got my first hellebore, doubles were very rare but now they are becoming more common and there are so many different colours. Some are being bred for upward looking flowers, it would be nice to see the flower centres but they might lose something of their mystery.

    Jane, thanks for visiting. 250 lucky you, all that room to grow a lovely collection of plants. Ever time I read your posts I think what more plants! I will not think of all the work that goes with it.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • Pomona Belvedere February 18, 2009, 4:14 pm

    I see I am not the only one who has been lusting after ‘Ivory Prince’, though I haven’t met him personally his pictures are alluring. And I am grateful, as an intermittent reader-about-hellebores, to know where H. orientalis went and what all those H. x hybridus are. Plus I just love these photos, Sylvia!

    Syvia and Frances are doing a very good job with their hellebore lobbying, and hellebores themselves seem to be creeping up on me. In my next post I’ll have pictues of the Getty gardens in Los Angeles – replete with hellebore. LA’s climate gets hot but not as broiling as it gets inland, and humidity is low, so I don’t know if growing them there means you can grow them someplace tropical, like Malaysia. But then in Malaysia you can grow so many of the plants we of the temperate zones can only fantasize about.

    I visited Jane’s site and look forward to visiting it again – woodland plants galore. Plant Delights, which she recommends, is also a good place to get hellebores, though some of them are quite pricey.

    It’s great to hear about everyone’s hellebore successes or even attempts; I look forward to seeing pictures of the new generation of seedlings, and I’m glad to have learned more from Sylvia and all of you about the different varieties available.

  • Pomona Belvedere February 18, 2009, 5:08 pm

    I forgot my hostessly duties – did anyone else have trouble loading these pictures? I did reduce and resize as usual, but the gremlins could have been at work.

    LindaLuna – I can relate! And I think you’ve encapsulated the gist of many garden reviews.

  • Jan(ThanksFor2Day) February 18, 2009, 7:27 pm

    Hi Pomona, No-all of the photos loaded just fine for me. Perhaps it’s solved now for others that had difficulty…
    Sylvia, your apparent lust for hellebores is so obvious – but that’s a good thing,!! It’s a contagious sort of lust, and I’ve got the bug. I’m not complaining, because it’s definitely the kind of sickness I don’t want to fight, nor do I want a cure for! I own just ONE hellebore, which I purchased several years ago. I am embarrased to tell you how utterly ignorant I was about these lovely plants until joining Blotanical in November. It seems these plants are like the newest fashion trend, or the latest gadget, or even the most trendy furniture–at least one would think so if you read Blotanical right now! They’re all the rage and everyone is talking about them! I am glad, too…because until this year, I had no idea that I should cut off the old leaves to allow the new blooms to be seen! Every other year I just stared at the leaves, and I noticed some tulip-like flowers under there, somewhere, but just never knew what to do with them. Wow! That has all changed now. I’ve cut off the leaves, and the new blooms are beginning to emerge–and I am actually going to be treated to their beauty this year. I wish to thank all of the garden bloggers who just cannot stop talking about hellebores, as well as you, Sylvia, for your heart-felt post claiming your love for them…and you too, Pomona, for having Sylvia share this terrific post with us!

  • Sylvia (England) February 19, 2009, 5:03 am

    Jan, thanks for you lovely comment. Cutting the leaves off does make all the difference, I think it was learning this that made me grow more hellebores. You are so right about how much we can all learn from blogs, I do think my garden is better because of all the posts from around the world. Also it helps us to be less critical of our own gardens as people are so generous at showing the not-so-good as well as their beautiful gardens. A bit thank you to you all.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  • Victoria February 19, 2009, 4:04 pm

    Good question, Sylvia, why don’t I grow them? I love them, but every time I go to the nursery or garden centre, I just can’t decide which one to get. Maybe this post will help me make up my mind. I love the white ones with the purple freckles.

  • CamelliaC February 23, 2009, 6:56 am

    Sylvia, i do have a small cluster of white Hellebores. They always tend to look so tired though, hanging with their heads, and the leaves are battered. But yours look amasingly fresh, and recuperating after the heaviest of snow! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sylvia (England) February 24, 2009, 2:55 am

    Victoria, try going to a nursery with hundreds spread out, all different, trying to decide which ones to take home takes ages! I have seen more hellebores in the garden centres this year than in previous years so perhaps one will decide to jump in your basket!

    Camellia, I have a similar clump of hellebores to you, H. niga – don’t let this put you off of the hybrids, they are much better plants.

    Thank you Pomona for hosting this post, it is appreciated.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  • Mr. McGregor's Daughter February 27, 2009, 4:12 pm

    Hi, Sylvia – I’m another Hellebore fan. I love your Hellebores! I have H. niger, H. x orientalis, H. ‘Kingston Cardinal’ (a double) and ‘Ivory Prince.’ I can report that the first 2 are hardy to -20F (sorry I can’t remember what that is Celsius). I didn’t have ‘Ivory Prince’ when we got that cold, but this year we got down to -18F with snow cover, and ‘Ivory Prince’ is doing fine and looks like it might bloom for the first time this year. I fear I’m starting to go a little Hellebore crazy. After planting two new ones last year, I’m trying very hard to not get any more this year. I’m quite well stocked with what I have and all the abundant seedlings.

  • Atieye October 24, 2015, 11:51 am

    Hi Kerri,Long time no hear.I was just thinking about you the other day.Its been wet and mild so far this year. Not snowy like some of the USA stteas.The Hellebores are beautys when they finally flower! The robin is a daily visitor and even sits on the fence when I am out in the garden.

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