Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

A Hellebore Convert

Hellebore article in Suffolk Plant Heritage's magazine which details how I became a hellebore convert

Here's a nice surprise from last week's mail. I wrote the above article for Suffolk Plant Heritage Journal early this year and then promptly forgot about it. Click to enlarge the picture if needed.

Washfield Double hellebore in the lower terrace bed
'Washfield Double' hellebore 
Since I wrote the article I've added twenty 'Washfield Doubles' to the shady borders in the front and back gardens. I've planted some of them in the lower terrace bed, so I can admire them without having to bend down to do so.

They rewarded me with a surprise flowering in late spring which shows they must be settling in well. These forms were bred by Elizabeth Strangman, who raised them from double flowers of Helleborus x hybridus she found growing wild in Yugoslavia.

They're beginning to make themselves known again, now that summer's foliage is beginning to die back.  So far I have a couple of creamy speckled ones, and I may find I have white, yellow, light or dark pink ones too. It's good to know I have some new treats and a few surprises in store for when winter takes hold of the garden.

We also have a University of Bath Gardening Club member who is well-known for the hellebores she breeds in her garden on the edge of Bath. I'm looking forward to visiting one of her open days next year. Who knows what might follow me home from there...

Which plants have you decided not to grow, only for them to seduce you into thinking again?


  1. Dahlias. Although I'm still a long way from being a convert. The less flamboyant the better, but given the faff of digging up the tubers and the fight to defend them against the molluscs, I'm only ever likely to have a few.

    1. I think you live in Devon Jessica? You could try mulching your dahlias instead - much less faff, especially if you have them in a sheltered spot in the garden. Cut the foliage down after the frost has got to the leaves and apply a thick layer of mulch, then vigilance is required in May to make sure the slugs don't get the emerging foliage. They come back next year with more flowers too and the less flamboyant ones are better for bees :)

  2. Mine is kniphofia. A garden next to where I grew up was full of them and I hated them. Now I have a couple of dwarf varieties.

    1. Ahhh, now I had some Kniphofia when I first planted the garden here, but they were the uncouth ones. Some of the dwarf varieties look great - I like the look of 'Bees Lemon'...

  3. Chrysanthemums. My father in law used to grow the show varieties with huge balls on sticks. I never the smell. But I'm growing the daisy sort, and they really brighten the garden in October and last for ages in a vase.

    1. We have a shared memory Karen :) My dad used to help organise the annual chrysanthemum and dahlia show where he worked and how well I remember that smell! That one experience shaped my love of dahlias and reluctance to like chrysanths. But you're right, those button ones are great for this time of the year. I usually buy one to brighten up our front door - I've found it best to buy them in bud not flower, and then they last for ages.


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