Very early long-lasting flower, 2 to 3 inches across, many shades of whites, greens, pale yellows, maroons. Friend of early pollinating insects. Clumps of attractively shaped bright leaves, the whole about 18 inches high.
What’s not to like?
The Christmas/Lenten Roses in my garden have been in flower since January, and still look good now, early April. I say Christmas/Lenten Rose, because I don’t know which mine is! Hellebore niger is the Christmas one, while Hellebore orientalis is Lenten. I suspect mine are hybrids like most garden varieties. And they aren’t related to roses at all – they’re in the Buttercup family.
Easy to grow where the soil drains well and is not too dry, they enjoy a good compost mulch. Many people remove the outer leaves just before flowering as they get tatty and can suffer from nasty black blotches.
Breeders have a wonderful time with these plants, bringing different coloured speckles to the flower centre and edges. Some flowers are cup-shaped, others open and flat, and today’s most popular are doubles. They tend to hang their heads, so if you want to enjoy their colourings you have to lift them up gently.
Or do as I have done here and display them on a plate of water. You can just see the central seeds forming. They are quite large and will seed around the garden a little. And every new plant will have a different coloured flower from the parent – though you have to be patient until it reaches flowering age – a couple of years.
I like them best left out in the garden to enjoy through the snowdrop season, the crocus time and now the daffodils. In the last picture they are among daffodils and sharp green euphorbia at the back.