Best of the bunch

Macclesfield Express - - LEISURE -

●● HELLEBORUS THE jewel of the win­ter gar­den, some­times known as the Christ­mas or Len­ten rose, this popular peren­nial flow­ers re­li­ably from late win­ter to early spring.

Its el­e­gant flow­ers and at­trac­tive leath­ery leaves bring­ing a lift of colour from pale green to white, cream to pink, and pur­ple to almost black.

There are about 20 species of herba­ceous, ever­green, peren­nial flow­er­ing types.

Their re­sis­tance to frost and tol­er­ance of shady con­di­tions makes them a popular choice and favourites in­clude Helleborus foetidus, Helleborus niger and Helleborus hy­bridus.

Plant them in heavy, rich, limey soil that won’t dry out in sum­mer months.

Their leaves die down in June or July, after which the plants should be kept cool and shaded un­til they be­gin to grow again in early spring.

They are wildlife friendly, a valu­able source of pollen for early bees, and also make a good house­plant.

Best planted in herba­ceous bor­ders and in ar­eas be­tween de­cid­u­ous shrubs and un­der trees, helle­bores sit beau­ti­fully with snow­drops, prim­ula and pul­monaria.

Cor­nus, of­ten grown for its coloured stems which are bright­est in win­ter, and ma­ho­nia, a popular win­ter­flow­er­ing shrub grown for its bright yel­low flow­ers, are also good plant part­ners.

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