White and pink hellebore flower

Hellebore Time!

This is a time of year that I really look forward to. The garden is beginning to waken from winter and the first flowers of the year are starting to open. These early flowers are an invitation to come outside and have a look around to see what new delights have appeared.

Amongst these, the hellebores are the flowers that demand attention first. After the tiny winter flowers of mahonia, Viburnum bodnantense and winter jasmine, their big, showy blooms bring an exotic feel to borders that have been starved of colour for a few months.

White and pink hellebore flowers

I find the variations in hellebore flowers fascinating. There are so many different flowers and new ones being bred all the time – all with beautiful colours and markings on the petals.

The flower forms can vary too. On this one the nectaries are very large and a deep red. (The nectaries are the tube-like shapes, arranged in a ring at the base of the petals. In fact, these nectaries are reckoned to have evolved from the hellebore’s original petals, while what we think of as the petals are actually sepals. The sepals last for far longer than petals can, meaning that hellebores have very long-lasting flowers.)

These are such pretty flowers (and good for early bees) that I would love to have lots more. Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive to buy, but occasionally I’m lucky enough to find one at a price that’s easier to afford. For the pleasure they give, they’re worth it!

White and pink hellebore flower

23 thoughts on “Hellebore Time!

  1. Beautiful images as ever, of one of my favourite flowers. I get quite excited seeing the first hellebore buds appear, and now thanks to you I know why the flowers are so long lasting! I am lucky in that years ago I bought quite a few different varieties that flower over a long period, in fact one has been in flower for over 6 weeks under the magnolias. They were considerably cheaper 20 years or more ago! I’m also lucky in that they have self seeded, so there are more plants all over the garden, some in places I wouldn’t have chosen, but I don’t like to interfere if that’s where they’re happy.

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    1. They are amongst the most beautiful of flowers and a wonderful sign that spring is getting near. I should plan a visit to some of the more affordably-priced nurseries around here to see if they have any. And if any of mine decide to produce seedlings, I shall be overjoyed, but haven’t seen any yet….

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    1. The colours feel like a real treat after the grey of winter. I’ve caught a quick glimpse of a couple of bees as they flew past me but not seen any in the flowers yet. (Mind you, I haven’t been in the garden so much to see them – first it was the storms and then it was the need to get make space in the house for the inverter/battery setup for the solar panels we’re having installed. (Excited by getting those, LOL!)

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      1. We ‘re still waiting for the panels themselves to be fitted – I think the stormy weather has disorganised that side of things a bit. (But they have managed to get the frame on the roof for them done.) Will update when it’s all working…

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  2. They are lovely flowers, such a shame they hold their heads down, though I have read that some new breeds are more upright. Thanks for the info. I have been to have a closer look at mine and discovered the contrasting colours of the true petals and the sepals. BTW you can buy seed of the expensive ones, I did in May 2019 and getting the first flowers this year.

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    1. It is frustrating that they hold their heads down! I do have a couple that are more upright – HGC ‘Cinnamon Snow’ and ‘Shooting Star’. I posted photos of Shooting Star here last year: https://annmackay.blog/2021/02/07/winter-delight-hellebores/ These two hellebores look very similar, with the Cinnamon Snow possibly having a bit more of the peachy blush – but I can’t see much difference. (Always a possibility that labels got mixed up before I bought them and that they’re actually the same!)

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  3. I’ve yet to see a hellebore, and last night I finally did a bit of research. They simply won’t grow in the Houston area, although they can be coaxed along in Austin, a bit to the north and west, and they do just fine in Dallas, which is considerably more north. They certainly are beautiful. Do they always ‘hang their heads’ downward like that? That certainly would be nice for the bees on a rainy day!

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  4. Lovely, Ann. Exotic describes them very well. I have no recollection of ever seeing them in Europe when I still lived there. If ever I can spend an entire spring there again, I will have to keep my eyes open for them.
    A question–will they not reproduce and spread on their own?

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    1. If they’re growing in conditions they like they will produce seedlings. Mine could do with being a bit cooler, so I’ll try to encourage a little more shade around them in summer and also improve the soil so that they have a bit more moisture. Hopefully that will help!

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  5. What interesting flowers Ann! You really know your plant anatomy and it is amazing to me how the varieties have evolved differently. Also love the images as usual – very nice!

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