A random selection of hellebores today. They are just pushing up their flower stems now and a few have the first blooms bravely opening. I would have said ‘unfurling their petals’ but, of course, since these are plants in the Ranunculaceae where so many flowers, such as clematis, do not have showy petals at all but the role of petals is taken by the sepals, there are no petals to unfurl. In fact the petals are ‘sort of’ present but are converted into the tubular nectaries that surround the stamens in a ring. They are petaloid in the doubles and the newer ‘anemome-flowered’ kinds. All these are forms of the madly variable Helleborus hybridus which is, in my opinion, the best of all and the best to start with, being easy to grow and offering a wide variety of flower shapes and colours thanks to recent breeding work. These plants prefer a rich soil that does not dry out in summer and will grow in sun – if it is moist – or part shade. They are not fussy about soil type and will tolerate alkaline soils.
Always look out for seedlings around your plants in spring. Carefully dig them up and pot them and they should produce their first flowers in the second or third year.