Best of the bunch
●● 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.