I’ve talked about flowers and art on this website before – many times, in fact! Since the dawn of time, artists have used the natural environment and all its treasures as inspiration for materpieces. But what about a flower being a masterpiece in itself? The hellebore might not be the first flower that springs to mind at this point – it’s sturdy and buxom with its strong stems and pert flower heads – but with the Renaissance-like colours of the Helleborus Gold Collection®, this plant could really be at home in the National Gallery in London.
How to grow Hellebores
Flowering time: From November to mid-spring.
Sun Requirements: Thrive in a wide range of conditions with most preferring dappled shade
Soil: Any good, well-drained soil.
Hardiness: Full hardy in the UK.
Water: Keep well-watered until established.
Care: When flowers begin to fade you can remove old flower stems and leaves (only bad and diseased foliage should be cut) in late spring, encouraging new growth at the base.
Caution: Be aware that Hellebores are toxic and can cause severe discomfort if ingested. To prevent skin irritation, gloves are recommended when handling.
As winter nears, hellebores are the perfect late flowering plant to pull in colour to your garden. Perennial hellebores, often with deep green foliage and beautiful flowers, add interest to the garden borders and containers through to early spring.
When choosing your hellebore, to guarantee breed excellence look for the Helleborus Gold Collection® (HGC) symbol. Containing carefully selected varieties of Helleborus niger and interspecific hybrids involving H. niger, admittance the HGC collection requires a plant being of an exceptional standard.
Growing directly through its upright stems, with a perennial base, hellebores open up to a cup shaped flower. Colours range from whites, yellows and pinks often fading through reddish hues and lasting for a long period. The leaves are thick, healthy and robust providing a perfect foil for the flowers.
Helleborus niger HGC WINTERGOLD ®
Flowering time: November to January
Size: 30cm x 30cm
Wintergold® is one of the most popular of the Christmas Roses. Given its beautiful name from the abundance of anthers, the variety’s centre is made to appear a golden yellow. Often, the Wintergold® has six petals, rather than five, creating a thick band of petals. As the petals fade, they become a greenish colour with a beautiful ornamental effect, adding anticipation to the late stages of flowering.
Wintergold® is robust and easy to care for, making it suitable for containers. The white blooms of the hellebore contrast against the dark foliage, pushing the plant into the limelight of your winter garden. Overall, The HGC Wintergold® makes an excellent cut flower, along with being a superb winter perennial, flowering from late November.
Helleborus x ballardiae HGC MAESTRO ®
Flowering time: December to January
Size: 0.4m x 0.5m
The Maestro® is a really floriferous, compact and hardy variety. Flowering from December, the Maestro® shows an abundance of gorgeous creamy rose flowers with yellow nectaries (honey glands) that turn a deep pink throughout winter. Dramatically offset against veined, deep green leaves with bright red stems, the flowers will always steal a visitor’s glance. The Maestro® makes a great winter potted plant, thriving in sunny spots, needing very little maintenance and blooming from late winter to early spring.
Helleborus x ballardiae HGC MERLIN®
Flowering time: January to March.
Size: 0.4m x 0.6m
The Merlin® celebrates loose huddles of saucer shaped flowers, with gorgeous light pinks which darken to a deep cranberry with maturity. Dark leathery green foliage with dark stems embosses the base of the plant. Blooming from early to later spring, Merlin® is a strong robust plant, boasting deer resistance. It thrives in partial to full shade and is easy to care for.
Helleborus x ballardiae HGC SNOW DANCE®
Flowering time: December to January.
Size: 0.3m x 0.6m
This hardy Snow Rose, Snow Dance® parades creamy to pink flowers from December. Uniquely Snow Dance® has slightly marbled, evergreen leaves adding a lovely ornamental addition to any garden during the summer. Along with colour flowers and ornamental foliage, Snow Dance® provides a fragrant touch through its maroon stems.
By adding Snow Dance®, you can brighten dark borders in any winter, spring or woodland gardens. It can also be enjoyed as a stunning container plant. Snow Dance® enjoys partially shaded areas to sunny spots, as long as they aren’t prone to waterlogging.
Helleborus x ericsmithii HGC SHOOTING STAR®
Flowering time: December to January.
Size: 0.3m x 0.3m
Flowering in December, Shooting Star® is a strong-growing evergreen with rich green foliage and dark red stems. The flowers twinkle with a hint of rose pink amongst the gorgeous creamy blooms, holding golden yellow stamens. Loving partially shaded and sunny areas with low maintenance, this variety is a great addition to statement balconies, terraces and planters. Shooting Star® is another great choice for those who suffer with deer nibbling the garden.
History of Hellebores
Native to Eurasia, Hellebores are part of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). Known as Christmas Rose (H. niger), due to its flowering time from late winter until spring, are not in fact related to roses.
In the past, hellebores were also referred to as ‘Oracle Roses’ because they were used to forecast the weather of the coming year. Often in the countryside, it was tradition to put twelve hellebore flower buds in a glass of water before Christmas, each representing a month of the year. If a bud opened to a flower by Christmas Eve, good weather was predicted for that month or poor weather if it did not open.
The hellebore name originates from the Greek word ‘helléboros’ which translates to “injure food”. In fact, the Greeks used hellebores in military warfare: poisoning the water supply of the city Kirrha in 585 BC.
Where can you find the Helleborus Gold Collection®?
Each Helleborus in the Gold Collection® can be cared for in the same way, by removing old foliage between January and April. At Hillier we grow on our own nurseries, giving us power to protect, nurture and provide all of our plants with the best scenario to thrive and grow. We grow around one million top-quality plants each year in our nurseries, which are sold across our 18 Garden Centres and online at hillier.co.uk, along with everything else you need for your garden.
About Hillier Nurseries
Here at Hillier Nurseries some things never change and, since 1864, growing the very best quality plants has remained at the heart of all that we do. We are immensely proud of our network of 18 Garden Centres across the south of England, where our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you get the best from your home and garden, sharing our plant expertise. Visit us any time to browse the best plants of the season, garden accessories, home and giftware or for a freshly prepared meal in one of our Hillier Restaurants.
We know that plants bring great benefits to the environment, but we know as a business that there is always more that can be done, and we continually look at how we can make improvements. In order to better measure our environmental performance, in 2018, Hillier Nurseries joined The Planet Mark. In the second year of carbon footprint reporting and certification to The Planet Mark, we are pleased to have seen a carbon footprint decrease of 15.1% across our business. To learn all about how we strive to improve our impact on the environment, visit hillier.co.uk/environment/.