Jul 072014 0 Responses

Heavenly Hellebores

Hellebores or “Winter Roses” as they are often called are one of the few plants I can’t help collecting.  There are so few plants that flower and look their best right in the middle of winter and are easy to grow.  Osmanthus ‘Pearly Gates’ is another and as I’m typing this I am wondering where I can put them together as a pair.  A drift of our new Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’ or ‘Penny’s Pink’ under the scented white flowering Osmanthus would be fantastic.  A whole drift of them…  3 Osmanthus and a drift of Hellebores (time is ticking by as I wonder just where this can happen!).

Anyway – back to the Hellebores.  There are lots of different species with many different varieties and lots of hybridisation is going on at present which is why new varieties keep popping up.  ‘Anna’s Red’ and ‘Penny’s Pink’ are the best I’ve seen to-date.  Best because their flowers sit up and look-at-you.  No need to bend down and tilt their sweet little blooms.  These varieties stand out and the flowers are huge – large like Helleborus ‘White Magic’.

“Winter Roses” are very easy to please.  We all have shady areas that are miserable and cold in the winter – well this is where Hellebores are especially good.  They love the cold side of the house or under large deciduous or evergreen trees.  However, though they are found naturally in partial shade they will still cope with sun – they’re best in an area that gets morning sun.  Preferably away from afternoon sun in Hawke’s Bay as our 3 o’clock sun can be a pretty daunting prospect even for a Hellebore!

They flower mid-winter through to the end of spring and produce masses of flowers once your clumps are mature.  These in turn produce masses of seedlings so you soon have a swathe of Hellebores and they make great groundcover.  If you don’t want more – you simply dead-head your Hellebores before the seed heads open.  It’s a simple as that.

Hellebores can get rather tatty late summer so I cut off all their leaves in March and give them a dressing of lime (they love lime) and if I’ve got some – blood and bone or sheep pellets at the same time.  Then when they flower they have beautiful new shiny leaves topped by their simply gorgeous flowers.  I have literally thousands of Hellebores as we have a large garden.  One huge circle is devoted to them.  Phil rather drastically took to them with the weedeater one year when we had run out of time to cut them back by hand.  He chopped them all down and then raked up the leaves.  They’ve never looked better.  So if you have a large garden and swathes of Hellebores give this a go – I can certainly recommend it!

You can pick Hellebores too.  But they are a little difficult – just like Hydrangeas.  You have to pick them at the right time.  Wait until all the pollen has gone from the stamens in the middle and then they will last.  I pop some Aluminium Sulphate into the vase (also known as Hydrangea Blue) and this seems to help keep the stems unclogged and they keep quite well.

If you have any tips you can share about Hellebore culture and or picking – please let us know.  Would love some pictures too!

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