Monday, 16 March 2015

Heavenly Hellebores

Our passion for hellebores started about three years ago when we fell in love with a very expensive one at an RHS plant show and just had to buy it.
The hellebore that started the collection!

We planted it at the top of a slope and it glows when back-lit by the low winter sunshine. I discovered a local hellebore breeder and a collection started! Hertfordshire Hellebores
Spotted white hellebore




Apart from one hellebore that is located so that I can enjoy its fresh primrose-yellow flowers from my regular seat at the kitchen table, the rest are planted in a group in what we now grandly call "Hellebore Hill". They really benefit from being planted on a slope, or raised up, so that you can appreciate the nodding flowers.
Helleborus Double Primrose can be seen from the kitchen table
Helleborus Orientalis

Apricot coloured hellebore - a new purchase

Helleborus Blue Slate

Picotee with anemone centre - plus a hoverfly!
This hellebore has beautiful mottled foliage later on







I cut down all the foliage in February so that the we can enjoy the new flowers and to stop the potential spread of hellebore leaf spot from the old foliage to the new. I love the way that the flowers change colour as they age and I don't remove the flower stems until late spring or early summer when they begin to look tatty. I'm also hoping that they will cross-pollinate and produce seedlings with an exciting new colour.

Helleborus Harvington double red

Pink hellebore with Arum italicum in the foreground

The same hellebore with old flowers ready to start setting seed




As the hellebore flowers fade the little starry blue flowers of chionodoxa appear around them, followed by aqualegias, ferns, hostas and euphorbia. The glossy green foliage of the hellebores remains all year, and they don't seem to mind being a little swamped by the later plants.

Also of interest in the garden at the moment - Frog spawn. A couple of nights ago Pete spotted activity in the pond and we now have several clumps of frog spawn. According to my gardening diary it is five days later than last year.
Frog spawn in the pond


Our current to-do list

1. Sow seeds - We can't direct sow seeds in the garden because the chickens will eat them all. I have some poppy and honesty seeds that need sowing, and I need to look through all the free packets received with my gardening magazines and decide which we want to grow. Whenever I have a spare 20 minutes I pop out to the greenhouse - if I leave it till later it never gets done!

2. Pot-on seedlings from late summer sowings and cuttings - I sow as many seeds as I can at the end of summer so I can get a head-start the following year. Many of these are now growing strong and need moving into slightly larger pots before I put them outside into a cold frame to get ready for planting in the garden or selling at our May open garden.

3. Mulch and feed - We spread Fish, Blood and Bone liberally around the borders and put manure around the roses. The early bulbs could also now benefit from a liquid feed so that they can store nutrients for next year.

4. Check aquilegias for downy mildew - A dreadful new disease that kills aquilegias. If you grow them, please see Carrie Thomas's website for more information and some excellent advice about how to spot infected plants early. Touchwood Plants