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January's plant of the month is the hellebore31 December 2013
January's plant of the month is the hellebore, a welcome sight in early spring as it's one of the few plants which flower very early yet isn't a bulb. The nodding, open-cupped flowers are simple and elegant, held over a crown of big, handsome leaves. These are evergreen, but it's best to trim away the oldest leaves in late winter before the flowers come through as they get a little tatty.
Hellebores interbreed very easily and that's given rise to some exciting new cultivars coming onto the market in recent years. We're stocking up now in our garden centre so come and take a look at the latest additions. Among the best are the Harvington series, producing fabulous new colours every year: we particularly love the bruised purple single flowers of 'Smokey Blues' and the delicately pretty double flowers of the 'Whites'.
Then there are the Ashwood garden hybrids, including the beautifully pink-flushed 'Daybreak Shades' and 'Sunset Shades' series, and the 'Washfield' collection of double-flowered hellebores with their ruffled petals prettily flecked and speckled. Place them where you can look up into their nodding flowers, or cut a few to bring indoors and float in a bowl of water. Just the thing to make your spirits soar.