WITH the depths of winter upon us, if you’re a keen gardener then there is no better plant to cheer yourself up with than helleborus.
The traditional garden favourite, also known as the Christmas Rose, grows at its most effective during the winter period.
And with a range of colours from pure white to deep purple, it is guaranteed to light up a damp, shady spot in your garden.
Helleborus compromises of approximately 20 species of herbaceous, evergreen, perennial flowering plants.
They are often used for decorative purposes and are popular with gardeners for their early flowering period during winter and spring and are frost resistant, making them ideal for this time of year.
The only conditions that it struggles in is if it is planted in very dry or waterlogged conditions.
Subtle flowers of many hellebores are often hidden by the large leaves, so it is important to ensure they can be seen clearly by removing the old leaves in late winter or early spring as the flower buds emerge.
The most popular hellebores - in the garden - are Helleborus orientalis and its colourful hybrids, Helleborus hybridus.
They flower in early spring, around the period of Lent, and are often known as Lenten hellebores, Oriental hellebores, or Lenten roses.
This type is excellent for bringing early colour to shady herbaceous borders and areas between deciduous shrubs and under trees.
Dry shade conditions helps growth excel and they look fantastic planted in borders with snowdrops, Erythronium, Primula, Pulmonaria and Tiarella. They also make fantastic house plants.
It is important to plant them in heavy, rich soil that won’t dry out in summer months.
Their leaves die down in June or July, after which the plants should be kept cool and shaded until they begin to grow again in early spring.
Hellebores are also wildlife friendly and are a valuable source of pollen for bees.
TV gardener David Domoney is a huge advocate of the plant and believes this it is the perfect one to grow when New Year strikes.
He said: “Flowering Hellebores make you wonder at the beauty and resilience of nature as they open beautiful flowers in the depth of winter.
“The diversity of the colour and blooms together with integrated shaped emerald green foliage across many varieties make this a perfect first choice as the calendar year starts.”
There is a load of variety in the plants that give you the chance to pick one that would be the perfect match for your ideal garden.
“They’re really good plants as they grow in all sorts of conditions,” said Rob Williams, the Argus’ gardening expert. “It’s around this time of year that everyone buys them.
“They grow well in January and February and reach between a foot and a foot and a half. They flower just above the foliage.
“Hellebores also really good for use indoors; it’s what a lot of people use them for.
“They’re pretty plants so a lot of people put them inside a vase or put them in water so that they sit upright which allows their colour to come through.”
So if you were thinking of leaving your garden alone for the next few months then you may wish to reconsider before you miss out.
There are always different plants that thrive in different conditions but the Helleborus is one that excels even throughout the cold and miserable winter mornings.
If you want a pretty plant with a variety of colours growing in your garden, and the opportunity to bring it inside to brighten up your house, you should definitely invest in a Helleborus plant.