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jardin-perdu / Plant Guides: Helleborus niger - jardin-perdu
Pollinator on helleborus

Plant Guides: Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’

French name: Rose de Noël, Hellébore

The strong winds and torrential rain that battered my garden here in France throughout the entirety of January have finally subsided and this week the sun made a very welcome reappearance.

In my garden evergreens are looking forlorn, the ground is a quagmire, and yet there are certain stars which continue to shine no matter what a French winter throws at them and one of these is Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’.

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger is the earliest of the Hellebore to flower. Blooming from December to April the elegant, waxy white flowers, often tinged with pink, and centered with golden-yellow stamen hold their heads high in brazen defiance of winter.

Hellebore niger


Helleborus niger is best planted in partial shade, in fertile, alkaline to neutral ground which is rich in humus to feed their deep root system.

In our garden I have clumps planted under our deciduous Tilia cordata (Lime) tree where they benefit from the warmth of the winter sun shining through its bare branches, yet are shaded by its dense canopy during the hottest months of summer.

This year I have plans to plant some Helleborus niger beneath my Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ where their pure white flowers would contrast beautifully against the blazing red stems of the winter Cornus.

Helleborus niger is a slow grower, but flowering as it does throughout the coldest months of a French winter makes it not only a beautiful flower to admire whilst most others are cowering underground but also a mecca for early emerging solitary bees and other pollinators; a touch of sweetness amongst the drabness of a somber winter garden.

Pollinator on helleborus

This next week we are forecast to have freezing temperatures and a light covering of snow, but I’m sure these little winter wonders will continue to shine in my garden no matter what the French weather throws at them.

If you have Helleborus growing in your garden, I’d love to know, please do leave your comments in the box below.

A bientôt

Katherine x

The legend of the Christmas Rose
As Madelon tended to her sheep one cold and wintry night, a group of Wise Men and shepherds passed by Madelon’s snow-covered field bearing gifts for the Christ Child. Following, Madelon saw the Magi present gold, myrrh and frankincense to the baby…even the humble shepherds had brought fruits, honey and doves to give to the babe…but Madelon had nothing, not even a simple flower for the Newborn King. Standing outside the stable where Jesus had been born, poor Madelon wept, wishing that she had a gift she could carry to the infant. A watching Angel, taking pity on Madelon, caused the snow at the feet of the small girl feet to vanish, thus revealing a most beautiful white flower whose petals were tipped with pink, formed by the Angel from the tears which had fallen from the eyes of the little shepherdess. Overjoyed, Madelon presented her gift at the manger of the baby Jesus…her gift of the Christmas Rose.

'Plant Guides: Helleborus niger' have 3 comments

  1. February 21, 2015 @ 8:53 pm lily

    Lovely pics. I love this plant as well and have the dark purple ones as well…..lonicera fragmentissia is one of my favourite winter flowers….hope u had a nice birthday…


  2. February 21, 2015 @ 9:10 pm Jane @ earthpplejane

    Hello Katherine, what a beautiful legend of the Christmas Rose. I have been busy recently and haven’t been involved in social media for a while, but it’s great to get back gently. Your blog is stunning and I have also visited the Sarah Raven site and signed up for my Mum to receive a catalogue. I am drooling but being in Australia too far away I think. Lovely to see you again. Bye for now, Jane


    • February 23, 2015 @ 3:40 pm Katherine

      Hi Jane, it’s good to see you back – I loved your photos on your post on 19th February. I ordered all my seeds over the weekend from Sarah Raven, can’t wait until they are delivered and I can get them underway! Take care, Love Katherine x


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