Flower of the Month – Hellebores

Hellebores, or Christmas roses as they are sometimes known, are in my opinion the most elegant, subtle, and lady like flower out there. Their gently dipping faces are the definition of demure, calling visions of Jane Bennett from Pride and Prejudice bent over her embroidery to mind. They are perfect for brightening up the shady areas from late winter to late spring.

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Hellebores prefer to grow in rich, well-drained soil in dappled shade. Try not to plant them in very dry or waterlogged soil as their stems may rot.

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These lovely plants grow in clumps, and to propagate they need dividing either in early spring, or before they flower, while you’re tidying up the garden in October. Flowering may not be quite so prolific the following year, but if you give them time to settle in they’ll be just fine.

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Many believe that hellebores are very tricky to use as cut flowers, and plunge the stems of the poor things into boiling water. It is thought that this forces the air out of the stems to allow for better water uptake. This may work for some, however, I’ve never found it effective, and there’s something rather monstrous about condemning the eldest Miss Bennett in such a way. I just make sure to have a deep bucket of normal water with me when I cut them and pop them straight in up to their necks. I also cut them a little early, before they’re fully opened.

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