Helleborus x hybridus - The Lenten rose
A small part of our tunnels has been devoted to raising hellebores from hand-pollinated seed. In 2004 we were given a small box of seeds by Jan Kay, a passionate hellebore lover from England. Her hellebore collection originated from the famous Helen Ballard strains and contained some astoundingly beautiful specimens. We have been working on producing stable colour strains and new forms and colours ever since. Tough as old boots like our primroses, hellebores are the perfect partners with glorious harmonising colours of pinks, whites, purples, greens and yellows some with picotee edging. There are also some lovely double and anemone centred forms which are much in demand.
They enjoy similar conditions to our primroses, thriving in dappled shade, well drained humus rich soil and together they declare the coming of spring. They will often flower as early as January here and the flowers will stay on the plants even after they have faded prolonging the display well into summer. Please note that hellebores will form quite large clumps after two or three years (up to a metre across) and will need regular feeding or mulching with well-rotted manure to give a good display. They will self-seed freely, even the double forms, so if you don't want seedlings popping up all over your garden, cut the flower stems off before the seed falls in late spring. We recommend cutting all the old leaves back in early winter and removing dead flower heads and leaves to avoid harbouring any diseases. The new flowers will appear first before the new leaves.
A very large choice of hellebores in flower is always available at our nursery from January onwards. You can also buy young plants in 9cm pots by mail-order from October onwards and hand-pollinated seed is available from June to August.