Hellebores are ever-popular early spring plants: those flowers that always appeared early in our grandparents and parents gardens, poking out from the dead leaves with their hanging heads, shy to show the beauty they hid within.
|Helleborus x hybridus 'White spotted double' in my own garden|
As my friend Jenny says about Hellebores “Sad that the flowers face downwards and look unhappy or clinically depressed when they are beautiful inside. They need to face the sun and smile more. I don’t want them pretending to be sunflowers….. but a bit more self esteem is called for”. I think this could be applied to some people too.
|One of my own seedlings|
Mostly these old hellebores were the white H. nigre the "Christmas Rose" and its cousin H. orientalis, the taller purple "Lenten Rose", though they are not related to roses in the slightest. Over the years these species have given rise to a huge number of cultivars, strains and selected seedling collections because they seed freely and the seedlings can give rise to exciting new marked flowers or better foliage.
|A pure white double, Binny Plants|
Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Bob’s Best’
Large, saucer-shaped, pink flushed white flowers in winter through to late spring over glaucus, grey foliage with maroon petioles. Height 30cm.
The following plants are all from the Lady Series of Hellebores developed by German breeder Gisela Schmiemann who took over Helen Ballard’s stock. They show good form with nice, dark-green foliage and stunning flowers. The plants are seed grown so there is a little bit of variability. To 50cm.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Blue Lady’
Dark smoky purple blue flowers with cream stamens over lustrous green leaves. Slower growing than the lighter coloured strains.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Pink Lady’
Plain, pale, cup-shaped flowers or dark-pink and cream stamens on tall stems over well-formed, shiny, dark-green leaves.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘Red Lady’
Deep reddish flowers with cream stamens and dark green well formed leaves.
Helleborus x hybridus ‘White Lady Spotted’
Beautiful white flowers, speckled blood-red all over well-formed, shiny, dark green leaves.
Helleborus X hybridus ‘Yellow Lady’
An unusual colour with lovely primrose yellow flowers speckled blood red.
Traditionally known as the Christmas rose, it’s pure white flowers brighten up a shady spot under trees and shrubs from early winter through to early spring.
The Stinking Hellebore which grows taller to 80cm with deeply cut dark green, leathery leaves under panicles of drooping lime green flowers. These are often edged with maroon and despite it’s name it is the crushed leaves that smell not the flowers.
The green hellebore grows to 60cm with green flowers appearing
from February to April over dark green leaves.
Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden hybrids
This is a group of with leathery, divided, glossy, dark green leaves and, from late winter to early spring, saucer-shaped flowers in shades of white, purple, pink, red, apricot, green, yellow and black, some spotted, blotched with maroon or streaked with red. Choose them in flower so you know what you are getting.
Helleborus x hybridus White spotted double
This is a beautiful plant with double white flowers covered in maroon spots. A large clump of these are truly wonderful, as is my own plant here in my own garden, Hellebore perfection!
Helleborus x sternii
Purple-tinted, creamy-green, bowl-shaped flowers appear from February to April. These beautiful hellebores look great planted in groups of three towards the front of a mixed border in sun or partial shade. One of the most eye-catching varieties of hellebore, for maximum results they require a neutral to alkaline soil in sun or partial shade.
We have several varieties available from the nursery including Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Bob’s Best’, Helleborus x hybridus ‘Pink Lady’, Helleborus niger and Helleborus x hybridus ‘White Lady Spotted’. I will be adding more to our stock list as time goes on.
|Seedling at Binny Plants|
Hellebores can be bought and planted at any time of year, if bought in pots. Autumn is a good time, so they can get their roots into the warm soil before winter and prepare to flower the following spring. A pinch of general fertiliser will give them a boost when planting and in spring, once you have spring-cleaned the garden.
A good way to see Hellebores is to visit some of the great gardens open in spring or some of the nurseries specialising in Hellebores (see above). I have visited Ashwood Nursery several times and the gardens at this time of year abound with mouthwatering Hellebores. Binny Plants also has an exciting collection in their woodland garden, with many seedlings from Helen Ballard, a famous Hellebore breeder in the 1950's and 60's.
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