The impossible dream? Helleborus ‘Winterbells’

hell winter bells2

Yesterday I posted about a pretty amazing hellebore hybrid and today we have another. This one is a bit more subtle but just as extraordinary. This beauty is a cross of the white-flowered, stemless H. niger and the green-flowered, shrubby H. foetidus and it was introduced last year. Crosses of H. niger with the stemmed hellebores are not new (such as H. x nigercors) but this is the first time the cross has been successful with H. foetidus, the stinking hellebore. And who managed it? The Dutch seed company K. Sahin Zaden BV made the cross and named it after the founder of the company Kees Sahin. And before you think I am going mad, his nickname was not Winterbells! The complete name for the plant is H. x sahinii ‘Winterbells’.

hell winter bells3

It is quite a smart little plant. The foliage is deep green and beautifully divided in a way that is so typical of its shrubby parent and the flowers are white, just like the other parent but they are held on arching, reddish stems in small clusters. The flowers are midway in size between the two parents. Although I cannot judge yet, one of the exceptional qualities of this plant (because it is sterile) is that it flowers on and on. It is supposed to bloom from November till May but we will see.

hell winter bellsBecause of its parentage it should be perfect for light shade in average soil providing it is not waterlogged and will make a wonderful partner for snowdrops and ferns.

The flowers open with a slight pinky peach flush and mature to white with a green heart and pretty lime nectaries but age to green. This is one really beautiful plant that has the best qualities of both parents. Apparently only one seed was produced from the cross made by K. Sahin Zaden BV. How lucky were they that they got this plant. It could so easily have had the small green flowers of H. foetidus and the dull  leaves of H. niger. Instead they got the best of the cross and we got an amazing new winter plant.

Details

According to the details of the US Plant patent the cross was made in 2004 and H. niger was the female (pod) parent. The seedling was identified in 2006 and propagated. Its distinct features are listed as: upright, mounded habit, free branching, early and free flowering, long flowering habit, single white and light green flowers and good garden performance. It is stated that plants grow to 32cm high and almost 45cm across and a plant typically has about 12 flowers per stem and 84 flowers per plant with flowers just under 5cm across.

It is a hardy plant but it is said that it will tolerate temperatures as high as 35c and is in the USDA Hardiness Zone 5 so will be perfectly hardy throughout the British Isles.

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4 Comments on “The impossible dream? Helleborus ‘Winterbells’”

  1. Meriel
    February 23, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    I love Heilebores & especially interested in ‘Winterbells’. Was this also purchaced in Johnstowne G C? Did you see Ellen range plants in Lidl at the mo for €3.99? They seem v variable but got a couple of pretty ones. They seem slow to sell as v few flowering . I have a terrific one which I think may be ‘Ellen’ as is double, more outward facing, a good desp pink & best of all seems to flower from Oct to June! I took seed heads from period when other hellebores were well over & have resultant seedlings just up which I am hopefull of. I have another double, lighter pink, larger more double flowers but v dumpy so looses the elegance but making a good show nevertheless!

    • thebikinggardener
      February 23, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Yes I got it there as well though there were not many of them left. I didn’t see those in Lidl but I haven’t been for a couple of weeks. I may have to take a look. I tend to only buy hellebores in bloom so I can see what the flowers are like. I prefer rounded flowers but lots of people like the narrow petals and more starry shape and there are not many ugly ones! Yes some do flower for ages but October till June is pretty amazing! The dumpy double sounds nice to me 🙂

  2. thelonggardenpath
    February 23, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    I love the green tinge to the pure white flowers!

    • thebikinggardener
      February 23, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      Yes it is a lovely thing and the slight pink tinge does enhance the flower

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