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Hellebore heaven

It’s nearly hellebore time again. August is prime hellebore month and there are so many new varieties ready to spring into life in your garden and reward you with beautiful flowers.

Hellebore Penny's Pink

Hellebore Penny’s Pink

Hellebore Ivory Prince

Hellebore Ivory Prince

If you think that hellebores are elegant and fragile, think again!

The Hellebore ‘Winter Royalty’ Collection is a relatively new series of hellebores sourced from a number of leading breeders around the world. They were specifically selected for Australian conditions and are great for their hardy nature. They are long flowering, quite dry tolerant and adaptable to a range of light conditions.

Hellebores - and another loyal friend!

Hellebores – and another loyal friend!

The genus Helleborus, is native to Europe where they are widely grown for their decorative appeal, both in vases and in the garden. Hellebores, commonly known as ‘winter roses’ are winter flowering perennials. They are shade lovers and look great as a carpet under tree canopies. Equally they perform well in containers in the shade of the house.

While shady spots are the usual claim to fame for hellebores, the ‘Winter Royalty’ Collection performs well in a wide range of conditions. Extensive trials have shown them to hold up exceptionally well in full sun locations. We also trialled them indoors last winter and found that pots could be enjoyed indoors for up to 6 weeks with no adverse effects to the flowers. This is great as you can buy one as a gift and it will look great for a good month or more indoors, before being added to the garden (they make a great present as they look so regal and special).

hellebores-Outside-BatteryPoint06Hellebore breeding has come a long way in recent years and the flower colours now are simply stunning. This collection will be widely available come August and look out for rich creams, pinks and reds. Another great idea is to group a variety of them together in a large tub for fantastic effect.

Breeders of this collection have shared their special tips about care to really make the most of your hellebores. After flowering finishes trim the flowering stems back to ground level and at the same time feed with a slow release fertilizer. This will be towards the end of spring. It’s always difficult to trim plants back hard when they are still looking good but it’s worth it – don’t hesitate and you’ll be rewarded with another terrific display next season.

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helen mckerral
helen mckerral
10 years ago

Amanda, I love hellebores too. They are incredibly tough even in dry old Adelaide. I remember seeing a completely neglected unwatered garden in spring, and although many plants had died, the hellebores were going strong. I think they are so tough here because they are dormant during our hottest, harshest, driest period – summer – unlike many other perennials that are in an active growth phase then.
i also love the fact that they’ll flower in very heavy shade, which is also why I prefer the paler colours (dark ones seem to get lost). Is the Penny’s Pink widely available?

Amanda Mackinnon
10 years ago

Hi Helen,
Yes, ‘Penny’s Pink’ will be available through most good garden centres and Bunnings stores. Keep an eye out in August when they hit the stores. the first of the Hellebores are just starting to trickle out around the country now. Penny’s Pink is a beautiful colour.

10 years ago

Hellebores seem to be just one of those stand-alone plants that could almost belong to a different kingdom. They have such presence in a garden, I sometimes wonder if they are not a plant at all. I love them.

There is another new release I’ve heard a bit about too – ‘Anna’s Red’. I wonder if it has been rebadged as ‘Penny’s Pink’?

…and I refuse to shop at Bunnings. Ask any of their suppliers for an opinion…..

Julie Thomson
10 years ago
Reply to  Eugene

Snap. Just discussing hellebores with a friend last week …… have never tried to grow them. You have inspired me to try .. thinking Penny’s Pink.

Michael McCoy
10 years ago
Reply to  Eugene

By some stroke of good fortune I have both ‘Penny’s Pink’ and ‘Anna’s Red’ on trial, and they’re both stunning (and different!) plants. It’s too early yet to know how they’ll go as garden plants, or how long to expect out of them, or their tolerance of warmer climates (see Paul below – I share your concern Paul, and have the opposite problem. Am told a new intro is frost tolerant, only to find it’s mush by 8am some morning in the first week of April).
For the keen plants-people out there, I reckon PMA would do well to inform us of the extraordinary pedigree of these two hellebores. These are not (as I sometimes think with new releases) just commercially driven crowd-pleasers, they’re the result of years of focussed breeding by a totally non-commercial hellebore-nut in the UK, and they’re like nothing else you’ve seen.

10 years ago

Hi Helen, though I do love to see Hellebores in gardens (in southern parts of Australia), they are not suited to all parts of this vast country. The vast majority of land within the borders of Australia are definitely not suited to growing these plants in gardens.
Grower’s marketing phrases such as ‘specifically selected for Australian conditions’ should be read with caution and skepticism.
If you do come across a hellebore that can grow in tropical, subtropical, arid and warm temperate zones, which compose the vast majority of this country, please keep me informed. The BOM government website is a great resource to appreciate how diverse and different this country is.
New plant releases are wonderful for gardeners but the correct information needs to be disseminated about this diverse country and what will actually grow in each climate region.
I wish to encourage companies to continue to investigate new plants, trial those plants and release improved cultivars. This also extends to reliable and trustworthy information on labels and in the media.
I also hope that my comment posted here is not taken personally but is read by others in media and marketing to fully appreciate the disappointment gardeners feel when they are mislead by simple words.

Amanda Mackinnon
10 years ago

‘Anna’s Red’ is a new release, out this August in Australia, different again to ‘Penny’s Pink – a lovely magenta flower.

Amanda Mackinnon
10 years ago

For those who are interested in the background behind ‘Penny’s Pink’ and ‘Anna’s Red’, both these varieties come from a UK breeder.
Rodney Davey and Linda Windsor have produced some amazing hellebores over the years, having a long history of selecting and rejecting seedlings. Rodney has been described in the media as the “most uncompromising, rigorous plantsman you’ll ever meet” – so I hope that gives you a little insight into the depth of breeding that has gone into this Hellebore program.
It’s great to see people chatting about where these new varieties have come from and appreciating that great plants are often years in the making. Rodney has certainly dedicated year to amassing a collection of seedlings that each year may show just a couple of new traits that he has had in mind.