All rise for the arrival of the ‘Lenten Rose’, well actually it’s all eyes down for these gems.
Regal in posture, yet shy with the tilting of their heads, Helleborous orientalis has to be one of the most eagerly waited for blooms in my garden. I start to look amongst the old leathery hand shaped leaves in January for the first signs of the flower buds emerging from the dark soil. As they appear, I cut the old leaves away to reveal the blooms and discard onto the bonfire and never compost these as they can harbour disease such as Hellebore leaf spot, an unwelcome fungal disease. The love and attention I’ve given these plants throughout the year really pays of with a delightful display in March.
The trick is to plant in the correct conditions and location for these hardier of perennials. Their care isn’t difficult if you provide them with the right conditions. They like a dappled shade location, such as under large deciduous shrubs or small trees, the north facing border of your house, wall or hedge.
To plant, dig in plenty of organic matter, compost or leaf mould is good. They don’t like water logged or dry soils so this will aid drainage and retain moisture when needed. They are hungry plants so mulch around them every spring or feed with a little blood, fish and bone. I don’t dead head as I enjoy them self seeding around the garden. For me it’s the excitement of seeing the flower colour of the new seedling. Sadly, these exquisite blooms don’t make great cut blooms and are very short lived when off the plant. You can either cut long stems and support them in vintage bottles that hold their heads or cut the single blooms and float them in water. Either way their many faces are beautifully revealed.
Part of the charm with Helleborous orientalis is the diverse range of flower colours, whether it’s a single or double flower. From primrose yellows, warm apricots, spotted whites, to dusky pinks, claret reds and velvety blacks.
Be aware though, once you start collecting them you will be hooked, but happy!
Where to buy ….
Ashwood Nurseries …… ashwoodnurseries.com
Harvington Hellebores …… twelvenunns.co.uk