JOHN’S JOURNAL

The Christmas Rose

It’s a time of year where flowers that naturally come into bloom now are few and far between, most of the perennials have died back for the winter after the hard frost a couple of weeks ago, Winter flowering Shrubs are just about to begin and before we know it the bulbs will be sticking their heads up! Anyway, The Christmas Rose is one of the few perennials which keeps its head up throughout the Winter with its evergreen leaves bearing masses of pure white flowers through into January, and it’s also perfect for growing in a shady position.

There’s a few different types of Hellebores out there and the first to flower is Helleborus niger, or commonly known as the Christmas Rose, then there’s also the Lenten Rose H. orientalis with their beautiful detailed flowers in an array of pastel colours, there’s also another few types of Hellebores approximately 20 in total but these are the main two.

Hellebores also make the perfect addition to cut flower bouquets as their flowers are great for drying as long as you leave the petals to harden first before cutting them, otherwise they will dramatically wilt and collapse, they readily set seed as well so when you do plant them out in the garden make sure to check around the base in spring for emerging seedlings which can be pricked out and grown on. They thrive in a shaded position and are tolerant of a drier soil, they only have one real requirement and that’s a nice deep soil, and not to have their feet in standing water. They are so easy to look after and once they are established leave them untouched, they require little feeding and no digging up and replanting. You trim off the old evergreen leaves on the niger and orientalis species as soon as they look tatty once the flowers emerge, and then after their flowers new leaves will appear as they begin a new season.

The frost also doesn’t hurt them either, the hardest of frosts will just make the stems droop towards the ground, then in the sunshine as the temperature rises they will lift themselves up again, incredible! They also make the perfect combination plant for Spring bulbs whether it be Snowdrops, Fritillarias or Daffodils, their colours compliment each other and as mentioned you don’t have to feed them but if you do then some Vitax Q4 in Spring won’t go to miss, making them flower even stronger the following year.

So if you haven’t already got Hellebores in the garden then now is the time to plan, whether it be the Christmas Rose for colour now or the Lenten Roses for something to look forward to in the Spring they are a unique, beautiful type of flower and very easy to grow.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

 

Is it ok to trim Holly?

It’s in high demand at the moment, the perfect winter foliage counterpart whether it be green, silver or golden variegated and yes it’s ok to trim it. Make sure it’s either your own or you have the landowners permission but trimming of Holly now helps promote lots of new growth in the Spring, more than if it wasn’t trimmed.

 

My Pansies have stopped flowering?

Don’t worry, Pansies and Violas will all have a break at this time of year, leave them be and there’s no need to feed either, give them a feed at the start of February and they will soon spring into life and be full of flowers again

 

How deep should a herbaceous border be?

The optimum depth from the front to the back is 6 foot, this gives you space for 3 layers of plants, giving you lots of space to get combinations and contrasting flowers and also varying heights. They work well against a hedge or a wall as a backdrop and don’t forget to repeat some of the plant types to give balance and continuity.

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

Plant of The Week

Skimmia Kew Green

Filled with masses of buds which develop through the winter months and open into fragrant creamy white flowers in the Spring, they are sweetly scented and great for flower arranging in bud or in bloom. Plant in sun or shade and mix in acid compost to help keep the leaves rich and green