over 30 years since I bought my first hellebores from
Jack Drake’s nursery in Inshriach.
These plants have become mature specimens and
give a magnificent performance year after year, with a
minimum of attention.
As with hellebores in general, the performance
can last from 10 to 12 weeks. At present they are having
a period of great popularity, and are indeed much sought
after, particularly the orientalis hybrids or as they
are now known Helleborus x hybridus.
genus helleborus goes back into antiquity - but not the
plant here illustrated, Helleborus thibetanus, which was
introduced into cultivation in the early 90’s. It now
seems to be firmly established in the collections of
dwarf Chinese species was discovered by Père David over
120 years ago, and from his diaries it was learned where
several colonies were growing in the Moupin area of
Sichuan Province. Seeds and plant material in limited
amounts became available about 1991.
plant of this species was obtained about seven years
ago, and planted out into a semi-shaded border, perhaps
on the dry side in summer. The demise of the plant was a
great disappointment, and whether it was the dryish
growing conditions or late frost the following spring I
cannot be sure. In the meantime I learned that
Helleborus thibetanus was to be found growing in scrub
in damp rocky clearings and often shaded by Matteucia
struthiopteris, Astilbes and Hemerocallis.
fortunate to get another plant in March 2003.
This time, as it was a very small plant, I
decided to start it off in a pot, using a mixture of
equal parts leafmould, good loam and grit with a
sprinkling of bone meal, not forgetting a plentiful
supply of water during the growing season. In May 2003
it was potted on, and again In September 2004.
on the season the fat pinkish/purple buds can appear
late November/December, and the pink saucer of
bell-shaped flowers follow late January/February and
into March. The leaves are pedately divided into 7 to 10
segments each edged with saw like teeth. By July the
plant has gone into dormancy.