I am not a fan of the sort of mild winter that slips almost imperceptibly into spring, so I am happy with this one!
February means hellebores at their best, but I’m not going to get bogged down with too many different sorts here, for there are many, including some very interesting species. I’m going to stick with the lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus) which has such a wide range of colour, (from nearly black through endless shades of wine red, pink, creamy yellow to white) and are among the most handsome and versatile of winter flowering plants. Their markings are as varied as their colours. There are also double and anemone centred forms but these are less appealing to me … and also, I suspect, to bees.
Rule number one is to buy them when you see them in flower, that way you know exactly what you are getting. Buy a few really choice plants and plant them in damp dappled shade, maybe under a winter flowering shrub or at the back of a border where you can see right through and enjoy their flowers now, yet where they can happily spend the rest of the year undisturbed. I have several in total shade and some (self sown) in much sunnier places where they seem to thrive. They are very adaptable but I would say that clay is their soil of choice.
Talking of self sowing, they do this readily: it’s fun to help this process along by applying pollen from one plant to the stigma of another. I have found that if you start off with interesting hellebores you may get some very good seedlings.
The3Growbags were writing about hellebores this time last year – you can read their piece here