Appreciating one of spring's early bloomers
By Paul Hervey-Brookes
At this time of year Garden Centres and Nurseries are brimming with tempting spring colour and one that always stands out to me for the early spring and late winter garden is the hellebore. Often referred to as the Christmas or Lenten rose these perennial garden plants with their elegant flowers will brighten up a shady area during late winter and early spring.
Most species of hellebore can be divided in the spring although the hybrids do better in the autumn.
Preferring rich well drained soil and dappled shade these plants provide a rich source of colour during the winter months. Their subtle flowers are sometimes hidden by large leaves which can be removed to show off emerging flower buds and also help insects to pollinate the flowers ensuring good seed set for the future.
Water well until established in the soil as they can produce poor flowers due to lack of fine roots but this will improve in time and can take up to three years. They are rarely troubled by pests or disease and will happily self seed all over the garden. With colours ranging from immaculate white through to virtually black they provide welcome colour to the garden during the winter months.
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