What everyone needs to pep-them up a this time of year is a spot of plant magic and what better plant group to do this than the hellebores?
Appearing to strike through the surface of the ground when all else is asleep, hellebores are an arresting sight. Beautiful flowers, which may be white, cream, pink, purple or green, sometimes with gorgeous detailing in the form of spots or contrasting margins, are unexpected in mid-winter yet hellebores are sure to deliver them. Put clusters of three to five plants together in your garden to make a bold statement about the fact that winter gardens are wonderful.
Hellebores are perfect for injecting brightness and beauty into the garden when it can otherwise look sleepy. Enjoy them from the window or better still get out in the open air with them - either way flowers now will deliver their special therapy and improve how you feel. All the family will love them and if you've never had them before, friends and family members will be surprised and delighted when they first see them. Although their winter beauty often provides a welcome contrast to the weather, they yield structure and interest all year round.
Hellebores are mainly found in mountainous areas and are native to Southern and Central Europe. However, they can survive in a range of habitats from light woodland shade to open alpine meadows. Near trees or taller plants would be perfect, for example in the naturalistic setting of an open woodland garden or in a mixed or shrub border. They are tolerant of a range of soils, but prefer moist, fertile, humus rich soils and will get off to a flying start if you improve the soil at the time of planting with leaf mould or compost; this will provide the moisture and root run that Hellebores prefer. Alternatively, you can keep your Hellebore's in their pot and bring them indoors. During the late winter and early spring they make a lovely display in a conservatory.
At Hayes Garden World we have a choice of Hellebores including the new introduction Helleborus Rosemary, shown above. Its delicate pale pink flowers would look stunning set off against the simple nodding heads of snowdrops or more dramatically, dotted in a swath of purple crocus.
Some classic choices for hellebores are:
Helleborus niger ‘Potter's Wheel', with its large white flowers with green-eyes or Helleborus x ballardiae ‘December Dawn' which has big (6-8cm across) white flowers, flushed pinkish-purple. Helleborus foetidus (stinking hellebore) is called this because the leaves give off an unpleasant smell if crushed, but the flowers are a fabulous green and often have the exquisite detail of being purple-margined. Helleborus foetidus ‘Miss Jekyll'contradicts the name of ‘stinking' by having lovely fragrant flowers! As a final suggestion, look out for the much loved Helleborus hybridus ‘Peggy Ballard' with its gorgeous deep pink flowers.
These stars of the winter garden are easy to live with and require little maintenance in return for a wonderful show. Have you got space for some?