Helleborus × hybridus Harvington Smokey Blues
Lenten rose hellebore
- Position: partial shade
- Soil: heavy, neutral to alkaline soil, including heavy soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: February to April
- Other features: all parts of the plant cause severe discomfort if ingested; the sap may cause skin irritation; dark greyish-green leaves give off an unpleasant odour when crushed
- Hardiness: borderline hardy (may need winter protection)
Nodding or outward-facing, double, deep purple-black flowers open in February and last for up to three months. The handsome evergreen foliage is leathery, deeply cut and dark green. This is a new variety of lenten rose and the unusual, purple-black flowers have a dark blue sheen and creamy-yellow centres. They look stunning contrasted with snowdrops. To appreciate their colour, they are best planted in groups at the front of a partially shady mixed border, ideally where they can be seen through windows in winter, or as a ground cover plant for areas of dappled shade under deciduous trees and shrubs. In former times, hellebores were planted close to cottage doors to prevent evil spirits from crossing the threshold.
- Garden care: Add lots of well-rotted leaf mould or organic matter to the planting hole. Cut the old leaves back down to the ground in January or February as this will show off the new emerging flowers to best effect. It will also help to get rid of foliar diseases such as Hellebore leaf spot. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted organic matter around the base of the plant in autumn and provide a top-dressing of general fertiliser each spring.
- Harmful if eaten/skin irritant