GBBD: Helleborus 'Anna's Red'

I fell in love with this hellebore 2 years ago when I visited Great Dixter, but I only realised later my love was a tad on the expensive side to acquire. Since then, her price has come down slightly and she finally came to stay with me last year.

I've started to choose plants with more meaning for my garden. Ideally they need to be a reminder of something; good times - a visit to a fantastic garden perhaps, or good friends, or maybe something else. Helleborus 'Anna's Red' encompasses all three: the aforementioned visit, my friend Naomi who organised it, plus the couple of times I've met Anna Pavord, who is delightful and for whom this hellebore is named.

I agonised for ages where my plant should go and finally decided a pot on the patio is the best spot. There I see it frequently whilst I'm pottering outside, plus the veined and marbled deep green leaves continue to provide interest and architecture after the flowers have long gone.

I went to Tom Mitchell's interesting talk called 'Where the Wild Things Are' on Monday at Bath University Gardening Club. Regular readers will know him already as I followed his nursery in its first year, but even with that close scrutiny I hadn't really twigged Tom's passion is for species plants and their diversity - hellebores included - rather than hybrids.

Through Tom's eyes, I've begun to reconsider my position. I've had difficulties with this genus in the past because I've felt their downward facing flowers are too much faff and effort to view properly. My conversion started with the larger, more upright flowering Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Winter Moonbeam' and continued with H. 'Anna's Red'.

On Monday he showed photos of species hellebores with finely divided leaves and some whose leaves melt away before flowering time, rather than the grower having to cut them back as the 'gardening rules' advise. I'll be visiting the nursery at the end of the month and I have a feeling some of Tom's hellebores will be leaping into my car to grace the shaded area of the garden.

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day is hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


Latin Without Tears

Thanks for your positive reaction to last week's Latin Quiz - I'll publish the answers tomorrow as promised. As a result I've decided to feature some botanical Latin and its meaning on a regular basis on the blog - it'll help me in my quest to understand it too! Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day and my Plant Profiles series are the ideal posts for this, so here goes... 

Helleborus - my A to Z of Plant Names says it's from the Greek name for a poisonous medicinal plant. As well as this explanation, the Online Etymology Dictionary suggests it might mean a 'plant eaten by fawns', also derived from Greek and that it was reputed to cure madness.

H. 'Anna's Red' is classified in the Rodney Davey Marbled Group - the name of the breeder, whose story is told in the Anna Pavord link in the main post above.

ericsmithii - according to my Plant Names Explained, Eric Smith (1917-1986) was a plantsman and gardener at Hadspen House, Somerset. My fab H. 'Winter Moonbeam' was purchased from the breeder, Harveys Garden Plants. I also have a friend called Eric Smith - he and his wife are directly responsible for NAH and I meeting each other :)


  1. Loved this the moment we saw this at and RHS show a few years ago

  2. I love plants to have a special meaning, and to wander round my garden being reminded of people or places. If your hellebore comes down in price enough for me then I would have to buy it as my granddaughter is called Anna. Or perhaps it would be a suitable gift for my daughter. I was pleased to see hellebores in flower in my woodland garden this week.

  3. Beautiful!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

  4. This one is on my list to acquire this year. Be wary of Tom's hellebores they can have a very hefty pricetag!! I like the species but their flowers are quite often a bit green and I prefer a bit of colour at this time of year.
    I plant most of mine along the top of my wall so I can look up at the flowers, which works well - one of the advantages, and there arent many, or a sloping garden.

  5. Hellebores have never been on my want list. I might have to reconsider. That Anna is lovely.

  6. It's a beauty. Hellebores don't seem to mind my heavy wet soil. What better reason to get some more :)

  7. Still on my wish list VP but in the meantime hopefully the price has gone down even further :) I have her sister 'Penny's Pink' although she is not quite open yet.

  8. I think all Hellebores are so beautiful, they hang their heads so that the pollen doesn't get washed away by the winter rain, I wonder how the more upright ones will cope!

  9. Thanks for your comments everyone :-) Happy gardening!


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