Hellebores are plants that will brighten any garden at this time of the year. They are marvellous plants for a shady position but most of them do not require a lot of shade. The best known species are Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) and Helleborus niger (Christmas rose), these include thousands of different varieties.
The Lenten rose produces flowers that are open and cup-shaped with a nodding head. There is no better past-time than to lift their heads and stare into their remarkable centres. They come in mute colours of green, white, pale-pink, primrose yellow through to the most exquisite plum purple. All these colours may be enhanced by varying degrees of dark red spots, the flower outline may be round or slightly star shaped. Growing about 12 inches tall, they make excellent ground cover under trees. Helleborus niger, also known as the black hellebore because of its black roots, is the best known species of the Christmas rose family. It produces nodding flowers that open as early as January and continue until late April. Helleborus niger has been crossed with other species to produce some interesting hybrids such as ‘Potter’s Wheel’ which has white flowers up to 5 inches across with fine broad overlapping petals.
Breeding new varieties of hellebores has reached almost cult status in recent years. There are so many new varieties produced each year it is impossible to keep up with the new names.
Jobs for the week
Before all the snow I had a question this week about rose pruning. Hybrid tea roses can be pruned back hard now to within 8 inches of the ground. Floribundas are not pruned as hard, cut back the stems to about one-third of their length. Cut out all dead and weak thin stems completely. Cut all roses above a bud or young shoot that is facing outwards. After pruning spray the ground with a dilute solution of Jeyes Fluid, mixing a cap-full of Jeyes fluid with a gallon of water to kill the spores of blackspot in the ground. It is important to spray before the new growth emerges because the spray will kill the young growth.
Garden Club Notices
Limerick Flower & Garden Club monthly meeting takes place on Tuesday, March 13 in the Greenhills Hotel.