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Plant of the month: holly-leaved hellebore

A dependable evergreen steps into the limelight

Helleborus argutifoliusAlthough the holly-leaved hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius) is an impressive and architectural plant that looks good all through year, it really comes into its own in March when the striking evergreen foliage is topped with pale, luminescent blooms that are a favourite with early foraging bees.

Being evergreen and having such striking foliage means that they are a useful plant in the garden and lend themselves to many planting schemes and situations. Most of ours are located either in the old Winter Garden or in the more contemporary Winter Walk. In both cases they complement the vibrant winter stems and act as a good foil for all the spring bulbs, as well as adding structure to the area when the stems of willow and dogwood (Cornus) are cut back at the end of March.

As the flowers fade, the stems lower themselves to the ground to allow for the new flush of growth to emerge from the centre of the plant. This is a good time to remove the fading flowering stems right to the base, which improves the appearance and stops any energy being wasted on seed production.

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