Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Pirouette’

Many years ago hellebores were only grown by fanatics – no one went into the garden in winter – but now they have the popularity they so rightly deserve. They are easily divided into two types; the caulescent species that form biennial stems and the stemless, acaulescent types. The caulescent species tend to be from warmer climates than ours (apart from the native H. foetidus) and have stems that start to grow in spring of year one and flower and seed in the spring of year two. Then the stems die, but often not before they are covered in aphids. It is strange the way that aphids colonise these plants but at least it gives the ladybirds something to eat.

The acaulescent or ‘herbaceous’ hellebores are much more popular in gardens, mainly due to the popularity of the easy and colourful H. hybridus (formerly H. orientalis) and the equally popular and less easy H. niger (Christmas rose).

There is another type of hellebore – H. vesicarius – from south east Turkey which is summer dormant and rather specialised in its needs.

 

hell pirouette2

The garden here had no hellebores at all apart from one struggling in the woodland and I can’t cope without some hellebores to show me that winter is passing. So I will be searching garden centres for some good H. hybridus over the next few weeks. It is always worth buying the best you can find, no matter what the cost. These are really good plants and brilliant value. They are long lived and get better every year and they usually self seed around the clumps and if you transplant these seedlings in spring as they appear you can pot them up for a year and then form a drift of them. Helleborus hybridus will grow in sun or part shade but very poor or shaded sites will result in poorer growth and flowers. Their foliage is nice enough and good ground cover. Mix them with hostas and ferns or other shade-loving plants.

In recent years a tidal wave of new hellebores has swamped our gardens. Thirty years ago you could only buy a few inferior seedlings and there were infamous but hard-to-find clones that were slowly increased by division. Now there are many fine seed-raised strains and with the advent of micropropagation many excellent clones are now available at reasonable prices. I feel there is a danger that the proliferation of new clones may make hellebores suffer from the same confusion that has overtaken echinaceas and heucheras with many new series that are hard to get to grips with, often duplicating each other.

While many new flower colours and shapes and patterns have seen H. hybridus dazzle us in the past few years perhaps the biggest changes have come among the many hybrids of the caulescent and acaulescent forms with some new and surprising crosses including the recent and exciting cross of H. foetidus and H. niger ( H.x sahinii ‘Winterbells) that I can’t wait to get.

Helleborus x ericsmithii is a cross of H.x sternii, itself a hybrid of H. argutifolius and H. lividus, and H. niger. It is an attractive plant with masses of white, green-tinged flowers with varying amounts of pink as the flowers develop, inherited from the slightly tender and shortlived H. lividus.

The first of the hellebores I have added to the garden is a recent form of this hybrid called ‘Pirouette’. Raised by Blackthorn Nursery in Hampshire, UK it will reach about 45cm high and wide and has pink and white flowers and buds with that wine red suffusion inherited from H. lividus. The flowers are held fairly upright and are enhanced by some very attractive green nectaries and yellow stamens. Time will tell how well it fares in the garden and in the trade but it looks like a good addition to the garden and three will be planted in the new acer and heather bed tomorrow.

hell pirouette

 

, , , , , , ,

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. With the benefit of experience | The Biking Gardener - March 30, 2020

    […] Helleborus ‘Piroutte’ […]

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener

Our garden, gardens visited, occasional thoughts and book reviews

AltroVerde

un altro blog sul giardinaggio...

vegetablurb

four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!

ontheedgegardening

Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to save garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow

HERITAGE IRISES

An English persons experience of living and gardening in Ireland

%d bloggers like this: