Hellebores are a family of delightful winter- and spring-flowering perennials. The unusualcan be white, cream, plum, purple and even green. They are excellent under shrubs, and mix well with early bulbs.
Suitable site and soil. Hellebores prefer a shadyand a rich, moist – though not boggy – soil.
Cultivation and care. Plant in autumn. Do not disturb the plants once they are established. Cut off the old, faded flowerin summer. Give an occasional top-dressing of to keep the soil rich and moist.
Propagation. Sowin summer in a sandy soil in a cold frame. Alternatively, allow to self- and transplant while still small, or divide clumps after flowering.
Recommended varieties. H. niger (Christmas rose) has leathery evergreenand white, saucer-shaped with gold anthers from midwinter to early spring (height 30-45cm – 12-18in). H. orientalis (Lenten rose) is evergreen except in the coldest districts. Flowers appear in late winter and may be cream, crimson, purple, pink or white (height 30-45cm – 12-18in). H. lividus corsicus is evergreen with greyish spiny leathery leaves. The spreading heads of flowers appear in late winter and have an unusual lime-green colour (height 60cm – 24in). H. purpurascens is deciduous with wide saucer-shaped flowers, purple outside and green-purple inside.
Pests and diseases. Leaf spot may damage the leaves.
GROUND COVER UNDER SHRUBS
The Lenten rose is an effective way of suppressing weeds under deciduous shrubs. The plants thrive in the shade offered by the shrubs and flower before the shrubs are in.