Helleborus x ericsmithii

The quintessential Winter flowering perennial and probably the most popular of all the shade loving plants. They bring such optimism and cheer to the garden in the early months of the year. Hellebores are, on the whole, very easy plants, reliably perennial and will mildly seed about. They like cool moist soils in semi shade. There are a number of species available and now a large range of varieties and cultivars too. Hellebores look best in informal groups and they combine beautifully with snowdrops, Cyclamen coum, Anemones, Trilliums, Pulmonarias etc, and they offer an early treat for pollinating insects. Many of the newer varieities have been bred for their fabulous silver veined and marbled foliage.
Helleborus x ericsmithii
habitat Most hellebore species are naturally woodland plants from Europe and the near East and in one case China. Others, particularly the stem forming species (H. lividus, argutifolius, vesicarius and foetidus) come from dry slopes and open sunny spots and Helleborus niger grows mostly on sub alpine meadows. Anyone seeing the stands of Helleborus foetidus on the dry exposed limestone road cuttings of Southern England, growing alongside things like Juniper, can be in little doubt of the need for a well drained soil.
Some of the very best new forms of Helleborus are hybrids; previously rare and highly sought after, as propogation was only by the careful selection of crosses between species. However, advances in tissue culture propogation have now allowed breeders to propogate from the very best hybrids producing wonderful clones in good numbers.
Helleborus x ericsmithii is a hybrid between the sub alpine Helleborus niger and a hybrid ( x sternii) both of which parents are from Mediterranean Islands, but the mix is one of the best of all Hellebores. Pink or white flower in masses from mid Winter through to mid Spring, with steely grey foliage, either flat or mottled, with a strong serrated edge. They do like three parts sun to semi shade and a well drained soil. They are evergreen and will provide tidy shiny foliage all year. Some with mottled foliage, such as 'Winter Moonbeam' are highly attractive all year around.

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