Fading Beauty and Hellebore Leaves

As I slowly re-engage with my garden it seems to me that this autumn has been unusually mild.  Even a couple of cold nights this last week seem to have made little difference to the garden.  It all looks as green and verdant as ever with some plants seemly thinking it is Spring like the potted Crocosmia which are already re-shooting.

I presume the mild weather is also prompting the hellebores to flower earlier.  My experience is that the whites tend to flower earlier than other hellebores with the yellow, if I remember rightly, flowering last but I’m sure this hellebore doesn’t normally flower before Christmas.  I only stumbled on it by accident amongst the neglected border because at the back of my mind was a notion that I should be removing the hellebore leaves around now.

I remove the leaves religiously every winter so the flowers stand out but I often find myself wondering what the consequences would be if I didn’t.  I suspect there wouldn’t be any consequences as in the wild Mother Nature doesn’t go along removing leaves so the hellebore flowers stand out better.  Apparently we remove the old leaves to also help reduce the likelihood of hellebore leaf spot (Microsphaeropsis hellebori (syn. Coniothyrium hellebori). Some of my hellebores do show some signs of this disease so presumably I should continue with this approach but I feel more relaxed about my gardening practice these days so maybe a few plants won’t find themselves as thoroughly de-leafed as before.


10 Comments on “Fading Beauty and Hellebore Leaves

  1. I was tidying up ours yesterday – just removing last year’s flowering growth and anything that looked particularly bad. We only have three youngish plants, so it just took a few moments. They are such long lived flowers that it’s worth it.

  2. I think that your observations about the mild autumn are spot on Helen. My potted collection of special snowdrops is racing ahead at an alarming rate this year. I usually cut off the old hellebore foliage at the back end of the year but I’ve noticed flower buds already. Like you say though leaf removal doesn’t happen out in the wild so the plants can miss the odd hair cut.

  3. I like a clean start for Helleborus orientalis and as mine too have started to push up flowers early all the leaves are now off
    I think an exception to cutting back is perhaps healthy seedlings which might not take kindly to their limited resources being reduced

  4. I never used to trim my hellebore leaves but realise just how much better you can see the flowers without them – and the plants don’t seem to object. How do you get on with your crocosmia in pots, Helen? I dug out a lot of mine this year as they weren’t performing and shoved them in pots so that i they decided to flower I could just pop the pots in the border – will be interested to see how they do

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