Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten Rose, is a member of the Ranunculaceae family that grows in the North Walk island beds of the University Parks. It’s an herbaceous perennial, and is often evergreen. There are a huge number of hybrids, with flowers ranging from pure white to a very deep purple. These flowers can be single or fancy doubles; there are also a number of hybrids with different colour splashes in the flower’s centre. They bloom throughout winter and early spring. They usually grow to around 60cm tall with a similar spread.
Hellebores are generally easy to grow. They benefit from a rich, well-drained soil, neither too dry nor waterlogged. They do best in a sheltered site and love an annual mulch of compost or leaf mould in autumn. The orientalis hybrids don’t need any real pruning, but you can remove dead leaves and thin older leaves in the winter to make the flowers stand out. This also helps control Hellebore leaf spot, a fungal disease which can become a problem. They are ideal for partial shade; the easiest way to propagate them is by division in the spring.