Hellebores, or Winter Roses, are one of the stars of the Winter Garden. When few other garden plants are at their best, Hellebores are in full growth and providing plenty of flower power in the cold Winter months.
The growth cycle of Hellebores is the opposite of many plants. Hellebores kick into growth in Autumn, flower during Winter and put on lots of new leafy growth in late Winter to early Spring.
To use Hellebores most effectively in the garden they require some protection from the hot summer sun. The ideal position for Hellebores is planted under or near deciduous trees or shrubs. Ideal canopy trees for Hellebores include Birches, Maples, ornamental pears (Pyrus), Oaks and Planes.
Hellebores look their best when planted en masse rather than as isolated plants. A good sized drift of Hellebores planted as a ground cover under deciduous trees will look wonderful year round.
When selecting Hellebores a number of different approaches to mixing and matching coulours is possible. A mix of paler pastel colours such as pale pink, apricots, primrose yellow and whites always look good in the low light of the winter garden. Alternatively a bolder approach to colours could see a striking mix of purples, burgundies and say yellows to really brighten things up. It all comes down to personal choice. However we would warn against having only very dark colours (purples and blacks and slates) as these are not so effective in the winter garden and the flowers can tend to disappear against the soil. Mix a few darker colours with mostly paler shades and the picture will improve.
Hellebores can be used in association with many other plants. Some typical woodland perennials which enjoy similar growing conditions to Hellebores include Hostas, Epimediums, Dicentras, Brunneras, Primulas, and polygonatums. Smaller late winter and spring flowering bulbs such as Cyclamen coum, Narcissus, Scillas and Galanthus are ideal with Hellebores. Finally there are many shrubs which can be used with Hellebores such as Winter flowering Viburnums, species Camelias, Mahonias, and Hydrangeas.