Monday, 23 March 2015

Plantfest - plant purchase for March

Every month I am setting myself the task of buying a plant in flower, as suggested by the late, great Geoff Hamilton, so that, by the end of the year, my garden will have all round colour. It is a burden as you can imagine, but I am learning to cope somehow! I am trying to push out of my own little horticultural comfort blanket, so that I purchase a plant which is completely new to me.

My visit to the nursery this month resulted in the purchase of a plant I have seen before, and has caused me intense plant-envy in the past. It is 'Fritillary Lutea', a luscious, gorgeous thing, which seems far too exotic for the bitter winds of early spring.

A month ago, the nursery yielded little colour, but this visit was completely different, and there was an explosion of pastels. It really lifted the spirits to see so much colour again after the bleakness of winter. I had to discount many of the plants though, as  I have loved (and often lost) them before. The rules are that the plant purchased has to be unknown and ungrown, and much of the colour in the nursery was from primroses, hyacinths and miniature daffs, all of which are very familiar to me.

I was quartering the sales benches, like an eager retriever, when my nose caught an unusual smell which lay heavily around whole area. It was a difficult smell to place, not unpleasant, but equally, not pleasant; reminiscent of something I recognised but was unable to recall. It was very pungent and hung in the air without dissipating. Reader, I should have walked away while I still had the chance ! However, by this time my eye was taken by the huge golden - yellow bells of Fritillary Lutea, and I was hooked. I quickly checked the label for any contra-indications, like soil type etc, but there was nothing to stop me, so into the trolley it went.

A stately, elegant plant, with fleshy green leaves, it looked the epitome of health and vigour. The flowers are borne above long, spear-shaped leaves. This exotic looking plant has a weird little top-knot, almost like a leafy pineapple, set above the flowers, which are downward facing. At the moment the flowers are still in bud, but in a short while they will open to be large bell-like flowers, with white stamens, which protrude from the base. 

I may have inadvertently picked up a couple of other very small plants on the way to the checkouts, I don't really recall! What I do recall is that the cloud of odour travelled with me every step of the way.
It was only when I was talking to the woman on the till, that I realised that the smell was coming from the trolley! It was only when she said;
"Gosh that is one stinky plant!" that the penny actually dropped !
The car journey home was breezy, to say the least, as every window was open to get rid of the strange odour.

To be honest, now this lone plant is not in an enclosed  place, but enjoying the great outdoors, I can barely smell it, just an odd whiff occasionally, when I lean in close. Reading up on it, the smell has been described as "odd" and 'foxy" by others.

(No apologies for dirty hands and compost-filled nails, which had been doing an honest day's work in the greenhouse!!)

The label below gives all the basic information needed to make a plant happy in its new home - it likes any well drained soil in full sun ; is happy in mixed beds and borders; needs water in dry weather (now, there's a surprise!) and enjoys a weekly feed. height is around 90cm, although I have read that it can be more if the plant is truly happy.

Since I got home I have been reading up on my new acquisition, and sadly, feel that a warning has been omitted from the label, to the effect of :

'WARNING ! This plant is considered highly desirable by any self respecting Lily Beetle, which will travel miles to get a mouthful!'

I also feel I should be prepared for this onslaught, and so should erect a big sign next to my Fritillary Lutea, with an arrow on it, saying "All Lily beetles this way. Please form an orderly queue." 

I shall be keeping a vigilant watch, and have my squishing fingers at the ready!

(I was going to grapple with Mr Linky, so that anyone who wished to join in every month, and buy a new plant, could add a link to their blog from here. Sadly, Mr Linky and I grappled to no avail - but you are very welcome to put a link in any comment you may add.)

Saturday, 14 March 2015

'A rose by any name at all ...' Part 2

Scientists and inventors, pin your ears back and listen to a bit of advice! Never mind splitting the atom and pottering about with the Hadron Collider, your time would be better spent inventing a plant label which DOES NOT FADE. I've tried, God knows I've tried, over the years, to find one which lasts more than a few weeks in the garden, but to no avail.

So far I have tried plastic labels with black permanent pen and pencil;

lollipop sticks with pen/ pencil; copper labels with an indenting tool (see post header); red permanent pen ;

black labels etched with a little pointy tool ...

the list goes on and on.

And do you know something ?

 NOTHING WORKED. They all end up looking like this ...

or this ...

A few months after I have carefully written my label, it is an indecipherable blur and I haven't a clue what I planted. Although I can recognise most of the plants I grow by their leaves I need to know the names of the variety. I forget which rose I have planted where, and I need to know all their names.

I have posted about it before, and if you wish to find out more, here is the link ...

'A rose by any name at all ...'

For christmas I asked Santa for a labelling machine, to see if it would solve the knotty problem of the fading label once and for all. I did my research beforehand, although, to be honest, there weren't many garden labelling machines to choose from. I chose a 'Brother GL-H105 Professional garden Labeller' and it cost around £30.

As Spring has now sprung, and I am sowing and potting on for the Olympic Team, I have just started using it. I can't predict how the labels will fare over time, but I am already pleased with the results, as the labels look much more professional than my handwritten ones.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post in any way, it is just me trying out a new gizmo, and being totally honest about what I discover.

The machine is a good size for a handheld, small enough to hold comfortably, yet large enough for the buttons to be used easily. The keyboard is set out alphabetically, which will slow down those used to a QWERTY keyboard. However, it will not be used for typing a novel, so I guess it matters not. It needs 6 AAA batteries, which, of course didn't come with it, so I had to go out and buy those first, before I could use it.

The machine works by printing labels on an adhesive tape, which can then be put onto any dry surface . In my case, I will be sticking them on plastic plant labels but I guess there are lots of ways to use them in the garden, greenhouse or shed. There is a promise that the labels will not fade over time, that they are waterproof, and resistant to frost, heat, chemicals, humidity and abrasion.

The machine is reasonably intuitive to use. The cassette containing the label tape needs to be snapped into place, and the batteries fitted. That's all you need to do before you are ready to roll!

 There is a limited choice of  font sizes, and letters can be typed in lower case, upper case or italics. I  briefly tried the main choices to  be able to make comparisons, but there is probably lots I haven't discovered yet.

Below, you can see the fonts and sizes I tried out. I discounted the 'italics' font immediately as the spacings between the letters were quite wide, which meant that each label used up quite a lot of tape. As the tapes are quite expensive, it makes good sense to use as little as possible for every label. Label length and width can be adjusted, so I have set them to be as small as possible to preserve tape, as each new tape cassette retails at about £16, (although can be bought discounted for around £7) . I shall be interested to see how long each one lasts.

'Blue Ensign' is printing on the 'small' font setting and in lower case. To my mind , this is a little too small, and the letters do not have enough impact. There is a relatively large amount of blank tape.

'Sexy Rexy' (it's a rose, honest !!) is in Medium font, and in the words of Goldilocks, it is "Just right"! The font size is easily readable and pleasing to the eye.

'Ascott rainbow' (yes, I know it looks as if the double 't' is a spelling error, but that is how it appears on the label the plant came with !) is in Large font. It is very acceptable, but uses more tape than the Middle sized one.

'Musa basjoo' is in italics,and, to my mind, takes up far too much tape.

So, for most labels I write I will be using the Medium sized font, in capital letters. There are other choices like 'outline' and 'shadow' but I just want a plain, easily readable label, at the end of the day.

When the label is written , it can be printed immediately, 

and the tape is then cut by a fiendishly tiny guillotine, hidden away in the innards of the machine, which jumps into action when the white button (bearing the scissor icon) is depressed.

When the label has printed out, the adhesive backing can then be removed. Like everything else, there is a definite knack to this, as the backing paper is split into two, horizontally, so bending the label slightly makes it easier to peel the backing paper off. I am attempting to do this one-handed purely for the purposes of this blog, as I was taking one handed photos with the other hand! I'm sure it is much easier using two hands !

This label was about the tenth that I attempted, and it is the neatest and most professional. I am pleased with the way it looks, and will be watching like a hawk to see if there is any fading over the coming months and years. If there is, I want my money back. Every last penny!

I won't be using my Labeller for every label from now on as it would be too expensive and time consuming. I will use it for labels on special garden plants, which I need to last for ever. I will make one for all my roses, and for any plant where I really need to know the variety. I will not be printing labels for any annuals, as these are only needed for a few short months. I think the Labeller will be invaluable for Open gardens days, when people love to know the names/ varieties of plants they see in situ. I can go round beforehand to ensure that all main plants are labelled.

Overall, I give it a definite thumbs up for ease of use and appearance of the labels, but the jury is out on the main issue of fading.

New meme - 'Plantfest' (23rd of each month)

This year, I have pledged to buy a plant every month, according to the wise advice of the late, great Geoff Hamilton. It has to be a plant in flower, so that, in theory, the garden will have colour all year round. I am also trying to leave my comfort zone a little, so that I buy a plant which is new to me, that I haven't grown before. I started in January and so have posted twice about my purchases. As quite a few people have commented that it is something they would like to do too, I will be starting a brand new meme which you are cordially invited to join. I have named it 'Plantfest' and it will take place on the 23rd of each month . I will be grappling with 'Mr Linky' so that it will be easy to add a link to your blog, and it will be fascinating to see what we all buy. 

I will be running it for a full year from March so that it will cover all the seasons.

Please join in - what better excuse to buy a plant ! Guilt free nursery shopping guaranteed!

"Choose a plant on the 23rd ...
 Then post and spread the word !"

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Decisions, decisions, decisions ...

I have set myself a monthly task, for the whole of this year, which is both pleasurable and painful, a task suggested by the late great Geoff Hamilton, who suggested that gardeners should buy a plant every month which is in flower, to ensure that there is colour in the garden all year round. I thought it was such a cracking idea, when I read about it, that I knew it was something I wanted to do throughout this year.

The 'pleasure' is obvious, who wouldn't want to walk around a nursery knowing that they 'had' to buy something! The 'pain' comes from the extent of choice, and having to make a decision. This is a long, long process for an indecisive person, such as myself...

In the end, I could not walk past the 'Snake's Head Fritillary' (Fritillary Meleagris), and it ended up coming home with me. I am cheating slightly, as I vowed that every month I would buy a plant which  I had never grown before, and whilst I have had a very brief flirtation with 'Snake's Head Fritillary', they died off after one season, never to be seen again. So we are not exactly well acquainted.

It is a Native wildflower, and prefers to grow in light shade, under shrubs or in light woodland. It grows to about 30 cm and is totally hardy. Preferred soil is light and well drained. 

It goes without saying that its beauty lies in the spectacular chequered flowers which come in shades of mauve and purple, and also in pure white. The flowers are large and delicate, in comparison with the rest of the plant.The buds have a very subtle check and are just as attractive as the open flowers.

When I got home I put them into a terracotta clay pot, near the back door, so that we will see them every time we go out. I could have planted them in a border, down the garden, but felt that we would enjoy them so much more if they were close by the house. I will plant them out when they have finished flowering .

Although the task is to buy one new plant per month, it doesn't say anywhere in the rules, that you can't buy more than one ! So, these chaps also came home with me - not in flower, but equally gorgeous !

This is Euphorbia 'Ascott Rainbow', a delicate variegated form with pink new growth, and yellow edging to each leaf. It is a nice compact plant - about 50cm x 50 cm, and is winter hardy in the UK. Even the heads of the dark - eyed green flowers are tinged with yellow, when they open in late winter/ early spring. It prefers shade or semi-shade, and does not like soil which is wet.

It is equally happy in a container or in a mixed border, and would make an excellent container plant as it has all year round interest.

My last choice was another member of the Digitalis 'Illumination' family. I was very underwhelmed with them at first, as my first season with Digitalis 'Illumination Pink' began in a very disappointing way, with slow growth and few flowers. In fact I blogged about it, and here is a link to my old blog, if you would like to read a little more about it -  'Dare I say disappointing ...'  However, as the plant grew and matured it began to perform in a much more robust way, and I ended up just loving it. During its second season it performed exceptionally well as it has a long flowering period because it does not set seed.

'Illumination Raspberry' has rich red flowers with a paler throat. It grows to about 45cm x 75cm. It prefers a week drained soil and will grow in full sun or partial shade. I can't wait to see what those flowers are like in reality .

I have a feeling that this monthly visit to a nursery is going to prove rather expensive ...

Monday, 16 February 2015

And so to sow ...

Happy New Gardening Year !

The propagator is now switched on, and is incubating about 150 seeds... and it feels so good to be growing things again. My new propagator is the size of Australia and I hope, just as hot !  I guess I should have given a short speech before switching it on, then cut through some garden twine with beribboned secateurs , but in reality I just gave a silent thanks to the deities of the earth , that it is time to kickstart the new season.

Because the seed compost is kept in the greenhouse, I knew it would be very cold, so I filled all the seed trays and pots, before leaving them in the propagator for 24 hours to warm up.

Whereas my old propagator is large enough for one seed tray, my new one can handle three seed trays (one large and two small) and some pots too. This means that lots of different seeds can be simmering away in there, instead of forming an orderly queue and waiting their turn.

I wanted to choose seeds of plants which need a long growing season, and would benefit from this early sowing. 

Coleus were my first choice as they take a long time to reach a good size, but, boy, are they worth waiting for. For some reason they seem to have have fallen out of favour with a lot of gardeners, and are viewed as dot bedding plants. We love them for the sub tropical garden where they add colour and texture with their infinite variety of shade and pattern. I grow them every year and then donate them to the Exotic Gardener to plant out as he wishes. Every year we agonise over them for weeks and weeks as they remain stubbornly microscopic until August when they suddenly have a growth spurt and overnight become quite statuesque. I don't know whether they perform this way for everyone or just for us, but I thought I would try and outwit them by planting them early. This way, they will hopefully sulk in June and flourish in July. 

They prefer to be sown on the surface of the compost and have access to light. Don't sneeze when you are sowing them as they are teeny !

I also sowed Datura 'Double Golden Queen' after soaking the seeds for 24 hours. I chose this variety as I hope they will hold their heads up, rather than hanging them in shame. I have grown Datura before and have had reasonable rates of germination, but always been disappointed with the results, as flowers have been few and downward facing.

Ricinus Communis Impala was my next choice. Beautiful seeds, a little like mottled bean seeds, but never ever mix them up as Ricinus is extremely poisonous. Another one which will benefit from a long growing season, although they do grow like triffids anyway. Sown early, then coddled in the greenhouse, should hopefully result in very well grown, dramatic plants to plant out in the sub tropical garden, once all fear of frost is over.

Dahlia 'Bishop's Children' and Dahlia Giant Hybrids will hopefully flower earlier from this early sowing. I grow Bishop's Children every year and wouldn't be without them. The Giant Hybrids are an unknown quantity and I am interested to see what will emerge. Again all the young plants will be kept under heat initially, then moved to a cool, frost free greenhouse, before being planted out mid May.

If you read my last post 'Yes, we have no bananas ...' you may remember that I was musing on Musa and wondering which bananas to grow from seed. I ordered a variety from Jungle Seeds, and I am under no illusions at all, fully aware that I may get no germination at all, or, at best, low success rates. What the heck, it will be fun trying! I soaked all seeds for 48 hours in warm water as suggested in the sowing instructions, and before sowing them in little pots, used a nail brush to roughen the seed coat . I learned in my last post, from members of 'Hardy Tropicals UK' that germination is encouraged by fluctuation in temperatures in bananas (Musa), and the optimum way to do this is to take them out of the propagator for night time and put them back in through the day. Ensete, I believe, do not need this fluctuation, but need a constant temperature for germination.

Even given the fluctuating temperatures germination can take weeks or even months.
I went for these varieties of banks;
Musa Sikkimensis Hookerii
Musa Sikkimensis Paradisiaca
Musa Velutina
Musa Zebrina
Ensete Glaucum
Ensete Ventricosum

In true Blue Peter fashion I happen to have some that were made earlier, standing in the wings! My ebay purchases of 4 Musa Basjoo, were as cheap as chips and I am hoping that they grow away quickly now. They are in poll position on the kitchen windowsill, so they have no excuse not to ...

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Yes, we have no bananas...

It may be icy outside, but in the new year, a gardener's thoughts turn to propagation. It's too early to start lots of things, because, although I could easily get them to germinate in a heated propagator, I haven't got enough windowsills to stop all the young seedlings going bendy through lack of light.
The urge to nurture and poke about in compost is growing daily, though, and I have been casting about for something which I can germinate so early in the year. I know I could get chillies or aubergines going, or any of the other things which take an age to mature, before they begin to produce something edible, but I can't get very excited about them. I want to try something exciting.

For some reason which I am now quite unable to remember, we decided to open our garden for the NGS (Yellow Book) scheme again, in June this year. I am already filled with a growing sense of terror, and in my head, the clock has already started counting down to 11am, 21st June, when we open the gates.  I feel an urgent need to grow something large, impressive and easy to fill all the big gaps in one fell swoop.

Initially, growing banana plants from seeds seemed to tick all the boxes. My thinking was that they would benefit from being started early, and, once germinated, they would all fit comfortably on the window sill. Once the cold weather is behind us, they could move out to the greenhouse, before being planted out in the garden at the beginning of June. I was hoping that by that time, the banana plants would be a fair size and make an impact in the garden. That was the theory, but things may prove very different in reality .

We already have some largish banana plants which we are overwintering in the conservatory, and so far, they are coping well with the conditions. We give them some heat when temperatures drop outside, and we keep them almost dry. They are wonderful plants in the sub tropical garden and add to the lush feel of the foliage, due to their massive leaves. Everyone says that banana plants grow extremely rapidly, but, to be honest, ours have shown quite steady growth so far. We have Musa Basjoo, which is, I believe, the banana of choice for most uk gardens. It is relatively hardy, as the stem is hardy down to minus 6 degrees, whilst the root can survive to minus fifteen (with a heavy mulch) so that even if all top growth is killed off by frost, the root will survive and put out new growth in the spring. We also have Ensete Maurelii, which has gorgeous red leaves, but is not very hardy so needs a little coddling through the colder months.

I have attempted to grow banana seeds before, but with little success. I do have a dim memory of  one seed germinating, but it died off quite quickly and never really got established. So, although growing banana plants from seed is not exactly a new experience, it is a challenge, which, in truth , is more exacting than I first thought.

Blogs are a fantastic source of shared knowledge and expertise, and I am constantly learning as I hop around the globe from blog to blog but Facebook is just as useful, and it is far too easy to dismiss it as just a social media site. I have been a member of the 'Hardy Tropicals uk' Facebook page for quite a while now, but have been as quiet as a little mouse, just reading and learning from the posts. I decided, however, to enlist the advice of its members about the best bananas to grow from seed, and they did not disappoint! 

My initial thought was to grow Musa Basjoo from seed, but the lovely people on 'Hardy Tropicals' told me that this is not possible, as propagation is from the pups which the mother plant puts out. Someone advised me to get Basjoo as small/ plug plants instead, as germination of banana seeds can be difficult, slow and erratic. The wisdom is that pups are cheap and will grow on quickly and strongly, whilst seeds may still be sitting, ungerminated, in the seed tray for several months. 

I took this sensible advice on board and began to look around for some pups. So, where do you go when you want something cheap and fast - why ebay of course! There were several sellers selling Musa Basjoo, and I chose one who had excellent feedback and low prices.Three plants for £13.50. What could be better ? Actually, four plants for the same price is even better. The button next to 'Buy it now' was entitled 'make me an offer' so I did, and the seller kindly agreed to pop in an extra plant for free. Below is a selection of the seller's plants.

(Apologies for quality of photo as it is a photo of an online photo!)

Other good advice from the members of 'Hardy Tropicals' was to fluctuate the temperature of banana seeds to encourage germination, which is something I know I omitted when I attempted to grow them before, and I will follow the advice to try 30 degrees daytime, and room temperature at night time. It can take anything from a couple of weeks to several months for germination to occur.

Members also recommended Musa Sikkimensis, which apparently is almost as hardy as Basjoo and with tougher leaves, and also Musa Helen's Hybrid. Ensete ventricosum is said to grow very fast from seed, but can be difficult to germinate.

'Jungle seeds' was recommended as a site with a good variety of banana seeds for sale, and as I have already used them before, in the past, I headed over there and eventually bought a mixed pack of banana seeds for £5.95 containing :

Ensete ventriculum - Abyssinian Banana
Musa velutina - Pink Banana
Musa sikkimensis - Himalayan Banana
Musa Zebrina - Blood Banana
Ensete Glaucum - Snow Banana

I like the idea of growing mixed varieties, and, if I  do get any to germinate, it will be interesting to compare rates of growth, leaf size etc.

Above is a photo from 2013, showing one of my previous attempts to grow banana plants from seed. The detailed , precise instructions should have tipped me the wink that germination was never going to be easy! For some reason, I decided not to follow any of this good advice and did things my own way, and guess what ... nothing happened!

From my own experience, and from the experience of knowledgeable others, it seems that banana from seed can be difficult. Not impossible but, well, let's say challenging. I like a challenge, and this time I'll do it properly and follow all instructions to the letter. If they fail to germinate, or, take a long time to germinate, then I will have those four little plants to lavish with tlc, so that they quickly turn into large plants. Hopefully, one way or another, I will have some new, high impact plants filling those naughty gaps for the open garden day.

So, now I am poised - waiting for my seeds and my plants to arrive. Waiting to switch that propagator on, which, like the official switching on of the Christmas lights, will signify the official start of a brand new growing season.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Hellebores no longer hang their heads ...

The late, great Geoff Hamilton once suggested that gardeners should visit a nursery every month and buy a plant in flower, to ensure that there would be colour in the garden all year round. This is a cracking idea on many levels, and one which I am going to follow for a whole year. Shame it is only once a month, but there is nothing in the rules to say that visits can't be more frequent! I intend to post about my purchase every month too. It is a great way to learn about what is in flower at any one time, and what choices are available.

I am not the first blogger to do this, by any stretch of the imagination, and indeed I first learned of Geoff Hamilton's suggestion on Jo's blog,  'The Good Life' . She bought a plant every month last year, and this year, and will review her choices this year.

 I am such an impulse buyer where plants are concerned, that this will be a great exercise in restraint. I intend to do my homework before I go, so that I will be buying something new, which I have never bought before. Buying plants in bloom throughout the summer months is so easy, but I make far fewer purchases for plants which flower in other seasons, winter in particular.

The garden contains little winter colour, apart from pots of cyclamens and pansies around the door, so it is ripe for a boost from a new plant. After reading other blogs, particularly Jessica, at   Rusty Duck I decided that I would buy my first hamamelis. Jessica mentioned a variety, 'Jermyn's Gold' , which looked fantastic, and smelled fantastic too, by all accounts. However, when I visited my local garden centre yesterday, the only hamamelis available was a rather unpleasant acid yellow... and it cost £30. I may have been swayed even with the exorbitant purchase price, but there was a woman complaining that she bought two of them, three years ago, and hasn't seen a single bloom yet. The advice she got was that patience was all, and that hamamelis take a long time to get established. I lost heart at that point  and went to look at the camellias. Too showy ... acid lovers, so would have to stay in a pot ... just didn't grab me...

My Holy Grail was the bench laden with hellebores ... cheap ... floriferous ... hardy ... gorgeous ...

Helleborus 'Christmas Carol'

Foliage 'Christmas Carol'

Now, I do have lots of hellebores in the garden already, but I have never bought one, more inherited some faded, washed out inbred plants, just about all of the same dirty pink hue. I love them dearly, and thought that all hellebores were like this, with fairly small flowers, shyly downcast. I wasn't prepared for this new generation of hellebores, which bear scant resemblance to the ones I know.

The first thing I noticed about this new super race of  hellebores is that they no longer hang their heads demurely, but look you squarely in the face ! Who would have guessed that modest, shy flower could be transformed into something as bold as brass!

The second thing I noticed was the size of the flowers, which are big, open and beautiful. The petals are very large compared with mine and the colours are clear and bright. 

The third thing I noticed was the price! I paid £11 for 3 lovely plants, one at £1.99, 1 at £2.99 and one at £5.99. As they are long lived perennials I feel that this represents excellent value, as they cost about the same as a bunch of supermarket flowers.

There were several varieties to choose from, and I chose three predominantly white flowered varieties - 'Christmas carol', 'Joel' and 'Rose Green'. They all have different qualities but would make a nice group, if planted together, as they would really complement each other.

'Christmas carol' was by far the largest plant and looked slightly rangy, in comparison. The flowers are a clear white, with yellow stamens. these contrast well with glossy , dark green foliage. The plant flowers, apparently, from October to February, which is amazing, if it does that in reality. It prefers shade or semi shade and grows to about 40cm. It is fully hardy.

My  next choice was a tiny little scrap called 'Rose Green', which looks much more compact than 'Christmas Carol' but apparently also grow to 40cm. It copes with full sun or semi shade, and flowers from January to March. The foliage is very different and is beautifully marbled with red and cream veining. The buds are much more spherical than the other two varieties and the habit of the plant is quite dense and compact. The flowers are tinged with soft rose pink and a fresh pale green. 

The third variety I selected was 'Joel', described as "a neat and compact plant with masses of pure white flowers opening from late November". It apparently copes well in a pot and prefers a humus-rich but well drained soil, in semi or full shade.

Hellebore 'Joel'


I am delighted with all three and pondering whether to put them together in a pot by the back door so that I can enjoy them every day. 

Roll on February ...