Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Hellebores ‘are a very important plant’

There is so much to do in a garden this winter that it can be very difficult for green-fingered enthusiasts to narrow down their to-do list.

However, the importance of planting in the colder months cannot be overstated – as sowing seeds now is essential to the development of certain plants.

Chief horticultural adviser for the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK Guy Barter recommended planting hellebores.

This collective of plants is a moniker that refers to members of the Helleborus genus – and it comprises around 20 species of herbaceous or evergreen perennial flowering plants in the Ranunculaceae family.

The genus is native to western Europe and the flowers have five sepals that surround a ring of small, cup-like nectaries. Sepals are distinguished from petals in that they do not fall off as easily – and can sometimes remain on a plant for many months.

Mr Barter said that the plants are important because they are hardy – they can last a very long time and are able to spread out. This means they can offer good value for a gardener, as they are able to last for many years.

In addition to this, the plants are very easy to maintain. "Unfortunately most of the flowers that flower in the winter are extraordinarily tough for obvious reasons, so it is well worth investing in [hellebores]," the expert commented.

For those who intend to keep planting indoors in a controlled space like a greenhouse, orchids are a great choice in the winter months. Indeed, thanks to modern horticultural techniques, they can also prove to be highly affordable.

Mr Barter singled out the moth orchid as being a very strong choice, as it is robust and has a proven track record, which could be why they have been popular for some time. Many people have been able to demonstrate dependable growth with this strain for several years in a row.

The expert also had some advice for newcomers to the pastime. He emphasised his belief that it is not very difficult to jump in and get growing straight away – if the person has the motivation.

"You have to start somewhere," he explained, adding: "Even experienced gardeners had to start somewhere with a packet of seeds or a plant. I would say that experienced gardeners are often quite enthusiastic and very keen to help other gardeners. If a young person, for example, would like to grow some plants, [they should speak to] friends and relatives to see if they have got anything they can spare."