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Hellebores - heralds of spring!

No garden is complete without at least one or two Hellebores. The trouble is that there is now such a wide range of flower shapes and colours that it is impossible to resist adding to the collection on an annual basis (surely it's not just me?)

Hellebore 'Maestro' (above) is a new edition for me this year and has been flowering since January. Flowers open white and age through various shades of blush until they develop a deep dusky pink. This, along with Molly's White and Anna's Red (pictured below) are x ericsmithii hybrids and actually seem to thrive in an open sunny spot. They form clumps of stems clothed in leaves at alternate intervals and topped by clusters of flowers.

All of the other varieties pictured are of Hellebores orientalis hybrids in various flower shapes and colours. These plants form clumps of leaves held on stalks that emerge directly from the ground and stems carrying several flower heads.

Orientalis hybrids can cope with some shade; I have lots in my north facing front garden that gets no direct sunlight but is not overhung by trees and also a number of plants that do very well planted at the back of herbaceous borders, where the tall perennials cast shade, in the south facing back garden.

Hellebores like a reasonably deep, rich soil that doesn't bake dry. They can be successfully grown in pots but need to be well fed, Growmore is ideal, and well watered. Hellebores are also great food plants for any bees that are flying early on mild days.

I remove the leaves from all my orientalis hybrids in November; the leaves are sometimes effected by black spots that are unsightly and can weaken flower stems if the spots spread. The plants also look much tidier and put all their energies into their flowers without foliage to sustain.

Go on! There's always room for one more ;)


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