What A Bore!

As happens at this time of the year a number of new hellebores were purchased and added to those already growing in the garden. A hedge of hypericum, along the top of a retaining wall above a patio area, and a line of pendulous cotoneasters hanging over the same wall were dug out, removed and disposed of. A new bed for hellebores was created and seven new specimens were duly, and with great care and attention, planted, mulched, watered, primped and admired. There was a supporting planting of primulas, lifted from elsewhere in the garden, and a specimen witch-hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Aphrodite’, also planted with the consideration if not a concrete plan to add two more along the bed among the hellebores. It looks good.

Naturally enough, the new hellebores had to be photographed and this prompted me to continue around the garden and photograph other hellebores already growing there. I “did” those in the front garden one day but the project was interrupted for a few days as we decided to prune the hydrangeas, lift and split a very large clump of hosta, Hosta ‘Dreamweaver’ – which lead to the replanting of about 20 small clump and the setting aside of a similar number – and the general tidying up which followed on from all of that work. However, I finished the hellebore project this afternoon.

So, as I was going around on my bit of business, I was thinking to myself about these hellebores. They’re very popular at the moment and have been for a good number of years and “special” plants can cost a considerable amount of money, anything from €20 to €50! Are they worth it? Well, if you like them and enjoy them then, I suppose, they are for they flower for a long time and live for years and years. So, good value in a way. On the downside, they are not plants we divide very often; they don’t give the gardener that pleasure one gets from building up a good group of a plant or of having a bit of a plant to pass on to a friend. In a way, they are not a very gardener-friendly plant. And, the lords preserve us, should they get the “black death”, that fungal disease which makes black stripes and patches on the foliage, then there is no saving them and, expensive as they were, they will die.

There is another thing about them which makes them a little less appealing to me – for the most part, they don’t have names; something which struck me when I saw our newly added varieties all had a name, so perhaps it was noticed as good thing to do. Almost all hellebores are raised from seed so, even though seedling brothers and sisters might look similar, they are rarely identical and therefore one name will not fit all. I think this makes them a little less appealing as each one is simply another hellebore. On the other hand, by way of contrast, I grow a few hundred different snowdrops each with its own name. Now, having a name doesn’t guarantee the snowdrops are distinctly different but it does give each one an identity, an individuality, a background, a story, a provenance. Hellebores lack this individuality; they are simply hellebores! Group descriptions just don’t do it for me. I like a plant to have its own name!

Helen Dillon was right: “It’s a hell of a bore being keen on hellebores!”

If you get to the end of this slideshow of hellebores in the garden, you are a glutton for punishment!

These are my favourite hellebores, all self-sown seedlings growing on our roadside wall
And, Hellebores in a garden setting – and I notice I didn’t include the plants on the left in the slideshow above!
Elsewhere, the hydrangeas were pruned here in the Hydrangea Bed and elsewhere in the garden
And all the prunings have been shredded and added to the compost bin

15 thoughts on “What A Bore!

    1. Danger of any heavy frosts are more or less gone here so we go ahead and prune. Also, the hydrangeas are already into growth and if left longer the pruning would do damage to the new growths.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Gorgeous hellebores. I totally understand your problem with most hellebores not having names. I tend to like plants to have names. But there is no problem with us giving our plants unofficial names in our gardens, for our own sanity so we know what plant we are talking about. And I don’t think hellebores could ever be boring – there are infinite variations on a theme. They are difficult, but not impossible, to divide – I have broken more than one knife trying to cut through that woody rootstock. I tend to be more cavalier with them now and slice with a spade – not that I would tell anyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first hellebore we ever bought was a prolific self-seeder and we lifted young plants and used them to fill new areas of the garden – many now dumped as they have served their purpose. Some were good, good single purples but there were many wishy washy colours as well.


      1. Me too, though those were the days when only a few named hellebores were available, at high prices and after a lot of searching. I think that few plants have been so improved in my gardening lifetime with such a wide range of colours and better flowers. I remember searching for the ‘legendary’ ‘Bowles Yellow’ to include in the garden at Myddelton. I now have unnamed yellows that are far superior and ‘just about’ really yellow. I still have fond memories of my original plants though, which fuelled my love for these plants.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I made it through your photos, I guess I’m a bit of a bore!
    Most of mine are from seed, better seed which has lead to decent plants but you have to be strong enough to get rid of a few along the way.
    The opposite thought came into my head this weekend. I have several similar drops which I might get rid of even though they’re named. I guess the names and stories have less importance to me so far away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, even with a strong interest in snowdrops, the enthusiasm can wane. There comes a moment of “is there anything new in the world?”


  3. Rather stunning collection, Paddy. I used to be a helluva bore about the plants though your photos reignite my enthusiasm. I’m intending touring the garden tomorrow to see what I’ve got and providing it’s not raining I may get down very low to capture those elusive faces. Seriously though, these are gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh- your hellebores are just beautiful! Hello there- I’m a new reader of your blog. I live in rural Japan. It’s a long story but when we first moved back to Japan after my husband retired ( he’s Japanese I’m a German-American) we lived in a little old Japanese cottage at the foot of Mt. Fukuchi. I had a lovely little garden there. I had hellebores- called Christmas Roses here. They are very expensive in Japan. Mine were lovely and thriving. When we moved to the home my husband inherited I was going to dig them out and take them with me… but.. I thought of the new owners of the house and I left them. That was six years ago and I’m still kicking myself in the arse for leaving them! The new owners have left the entire garden go … and I mean go! It’s so overgrown you can almost not see the house😭. My poor hellebores! I still pine over them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We refer to Helleborus niger as the Christmas Rose as it flowers here just before Christmas. Helleborus orientalis and hybrids have traditionally been called Lenten Roses, referring to Easter, though they flower will in advance of Easter beginning at the end of January. We were commenting only yesterday, chatting with another gardener, that they seem to come into flower earlier than in previous year. While we used traditionall cut back the old foliage in the last week of the year, we now find it necessary to do this in early December as they flowers have begun to emerge at that stage. And, as with you, they are very pricey here also but one comes on bargains now and again and our favourite in the garden was a supermarket bargain, around €5!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s