Q: We have a small bit of border in our garden which really needs something colourful right now, although not many plants flower at this time of year. Any suggestions?
A: The Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is the classic hellebore but there are many more, including smaller gems ideal in rock gardens or containers. Helleborus x ballardiae ‘December Dawn’ flowers from mid-winter to early spring. Its blooms are a beautiful, white, flushed pink inside.
Helleborus cyclophyllus produces rather intriguing, yellowish-green flowers while Helleborus x hybridus ‘Peggy Ballard’ is a true star. The flowers are a deep reddish pink, with veined, purple-pink on the inside.
Moist, fertile, soil with a good crumbly structure is perfect for hellebores. Exact requirements vary depending on species and situation, but dry or waterlogged soils must be avoided and plants need to be sheltered from strong or cold winds.
Shady spots under deciduous shrubs and trees make ideal homes. Hellebores are relatively easy to maintain – simply apply a leaf mould or organic mulch in autumn.