For five years now I have been anticpating the blooming of one my favorite flowers, the Hellebore, at Christmas, due to the misleading common name used here in Ireland: Christmas Rose. Steeped in history and folklore, it is one of the most intriguing and reliable plants that I love and use in the garden. And for five years, I have continued to think it ‘must have been a funny year’ or maybe my Hellebore isn’t quite in the right place. And for five years I though how wonderful it would be to wake up Christmas morning and see the Hellebores blooming, in all their nodding glory. And, to be perfectly honest, I think writing about Hellebores is probably a bit overdone, especially at this time of year. But, I write this for all the fellow misguided Christmas Rose fans: it does not bloom at Christmas, it blooms nowish. It was called the Christmas Rose based on some fairytale about a girl from Bethlehem whom had no gift for Christ and thus burst into tears. When her tears hit the ground they turned into Hellebores. That’s all…a bit of folklore. I can see the comparison, if I look very hard, as their flowers do nod and hang as if they were crying but still, Valentines Rose would have been more appropriate.
The perfect companion for Hellebores, in particular the darker ones which can get lost in the winter garden background, is Pachyphragma macrophllyum. They are beautiful, fragrant, clusters of white flowers which form a dense, evegreen groundcover (doesn’t get much better than that) and provide the perfect backdrop for for the Hellebore.