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Hellebore Highlights

Posted by sheiladearing on 31 Mar 2010 at 10:17 AM

Hellebores are one of those plants that can inspire enthusiasm and intrigue after just a brief introduction. Key to their appeal is the tremendous variety between individual plants and a recent stroll through Rosemoor, taking a moment to peek under the nodding flowers, provided a perfect, colourful antidote to the wet weather.

 


There are flower forms and colours to suit every taste, from the striking, single yellow Helleborus x hybridus Ashwood Garden hybrids (above top), to the majestic  H. x hybridus double dark purple-flowered form (above bottom).
Most of the hellebores that are currently in their prime are hybrids derived from the Lenten rose, H. x hybridus (syn.orientalis). That said, the pure white Christmas rose,  H. niger AGM, is looking good in the Rosemoor Winter Garden and the resilient native H. foetidus AGM (stinking hellebore) has been flowering since November. Hellebores generally tolerate a variety of soil types and situations, although perform best in a moist but free-draining soil with at least partial sunlight.


Top to bottom: Purple-spotted  H. x hybridus, the large,open flower of H. niger (Harvington hybrids) and H. orientalis subsp. guttatus.

Hellebore flowers do have a tendency to droop downwards, so planting in a slightly raised bed, on a slope or in a container can help to display their unique colour combinations and patterns. Fortunately the outer surfaces of the ‘petals’ (actually sepals) are often attractive in themselves. The glossy dark green leaves of H. x hybridus are cut back completely in early winter at Rosemoor.  This helps to reduce the spread of fungal diseases such as leaf spot, removes the leaf cover for voles that tend to eat the flower buds, and ensures a good view of the emerging flowers.


A raised bed in Lady Anne’s garden provides a perfect viewing platform to appreciate this established clump of H. x hybridus.

Beth McClure

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