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January 9, 2016

Hellebores

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Friday January 8, 2016

New Year, new plant stories
New Year – new you! Everywhere you look at this time we are being encouraged to begin new life-regimes for exercise, weight loss, savings, learning new skills. It’s exhausting just to look at them – try putting them into practice! What everyone really needs to pep-them up now is a spot of plant magic and what better plant group to do this than the hellebores?

Winter gardens are wonderful

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 bring structure and interest
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.

Planting zone of Hellebores
Plants of the woodland margin, they are happiest where they can enjoy both sun and shade. 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.

Sorts of Hellebores

  • 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?

by Colour Your Life • Garden.Org

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