A Winter-Flowering Beauty

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There are not many herbaceous plants that flower in the winter months, but Helleborus niger or Christmas rose is one that flowers from December through to March and is one of my favourite plants, although I have yet to grow one that actually flowers at the time their name suggests!

It has white flowers that are often flushed with pink, each bearing a cluster of golden stamens and the leaves are dark green and leathery. There are several varieties worth looking out for including ‘Potter’s Wheel’ which has particularly large flowers.

Hellebores belong to the Buttercup family and as well as Helleborus niger there are several other species to choose from that will give winter colour and in some cases colour right through to spring, such as Helleborus orientalis ‘Pink Spotted Lady’ which has tiny freckles in patterns on the petals and the deep dark red Helleborus ‘Pretty Ellen Red’, both of which Sarah grows in her garden at Perch Hill.

They need a rich, moist soil and a shady position to thrive and make a lovely spring display when planted with snowdrops and hardy cyclamen under trees, although I have found that they grow well in pots too which can be moved around the garden to shady positions.

They are hardy, but to produce long-stemmed flowers for cutting and to keep the petals undamaged they should be boxed and covered with glass when the buds are forming. This is not a technique that I have tried yet, but a vase filled with these would look delightful whatever the weather outside and be perfect for winter celebration displays.

The plant in the image above is destined to be an early Christmas gift for a friend who is a keen gardener. Do you give plants as gifts at Christmas? Which plants are on your wish list this year?

Thanks for reading,