If you’ve had a chance to read Patrick Lima’s article about hellebores in the new winter issue of Garden Making, you might be on the prowl for a few pots of these lovely plants next spring. I never have enough, and the new strains in production are quite fancy. They have the benefit of beautiful flowers with attractive foliage, so are useful the whole growing season. I’ve devoted my north-facing front foundation bed to hellebores, cyclamen and ferns, which to my mind make a winning combination, and all enjoy the same moist organic soil and bright shade. There are several Helleborus purpurascens there, a species with dusty plum bells hanging downward, making a thick clump of nodding flowers. If you turn the flowers up, you can see their happy faces.
Right now I’ve got a classic white hellebore with golden stamens that comes into bloom the first week of November (Helleborus niger ‘Praecox’, Zone 5), with white flowers remaining in good condition the whole month, providing snow doesn’t fall. When snow threatens, I try to get outside and put baskets over the plants until the snow stops, then uncover them when all is clear. They make a nice picture standing with their flowers open wide in snow. This plant is hard to find, and Lost Horizons in Acton, Ont., once carried it (though it doesn’t seem to be in their online catalogue now). In spring I’ll have a new ‘Black Diamond’ purple-black hellebore in bloom, a gift from a friend. The flowers are described as slate-purple to almost black with yellow stamens, and foliage that emerges deep purple-black and slowly fades to green.
I’m a bit challenged by black flowers; in fact I might have a total breakdown when the black foliage of ‘Black Diamond’ emerges in April. But it’s been pointed out to me that breeding programs make wonderful changes, and I just have to be open to advancement.
Other posts by Judith this week:
Posts by Judith last week: