The Lenten Rose

Helleborus ThumbnailOn a dull February day the flowers of the Hellebore hybrids add colour and life to many a country garden. They are the perfect companion plants for Snowdrops as they both enjoy the same conditions in a woodland setting or in  a shady border situation.

Helleborus 04

Helleborus orientalis   The Lenten Rose
also known as Helleborus x hybridus  

Hellebores come from the mountainous regions of Europe where they grow wild in the dappled shade of the woodland edge. Hardy to -18C they thrive in the relatively mild winters of the UK.

Hellebores have beautiful flowers from mid winter in January until early spring in March. Colours range from pure white to cream, pale pink, deep pink, purple and almost black. Some are spotted and others have contrasting edges or centres. Their large evergreen leaves are dark green and deeply divided.
Height and Spread 45-60cm / 18-24 inches

They are perfect for a woodland garden. Alternatively plant them in a shady border under deciduous shrubs. They like deep, moisture retentive soil but can’t cope with waterlogged sites. The purple hellebores are beautiful but like all purple plants are hard to spot against dark earth. I recommend planting something white  close by to draw attention to them.

In my own garden I grow hellebores under deciduous shrubs in the Spring Border. A lovely purple leaved Japanese maple Acer palmatum , a Snowball bush Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’ and a couple of purple elders Sambucus nigra produce their fine foliage long after the Hellebores have bloomed.  Next fresh lime green ferns unfurl, foxgloves and epimediums flower and the woodland geranium Geranium sylvaticum spreads  to cover the fading Hellebores and snowdrops.

There are so many beautiful Hellebores to grow.

Hope you are enjoying your garden this month.   Gillian 🙂