THE BLACK HELLEBORE

Single Black hellebore - http://www.ashwoodnurseries.com/

The single black hellebore - Helleborus x hybridus, is a stunning new hybrid that has been independently bred on both sides of the pond but with strikingly similar results. The first example is from the specialist breeders at Ashwood nurseries, England, while the other goes by the name of Helleborus hybridus 'Black Diamond' and is the result of a breeding program undertaken by Ernie & Marietta O'Byrne at Northwest garden Nursery, Oregon, USA. So similar are the two hybrids that there is little to tell them apart.

Hellebore 'Black Diamond' - http://gardenforeplay.avantgardensne.com/
They are both hardy, evergreen perennials with a long flowering season in the spring that can stretch from January to April.

The 5-7 cm wide flowers are an incredibly dark purple which produces a rich velvety navy-black colouration. They have a wide, open structure, and unlike many helleborus hybrids which have blooms that hang downwards, the single black hellebore flower faces forwards, although the blooms of Helleborus 'Black Diamond' are more downward facing of the two making them a little less showy.

The plant can reach an approximate height of 50 cm once established and produces handsome leathery leaves. Like the flowers the leaves emerge a gorgeous deep purple but revert to green once they extend to full size.

The black hellebores will grow well in a position of full sun or partial shade in most ordinary, moist but well drained soils. They will perform at their best in slightly alkaline soils but will also tolerate acidic, heavy clays and thin chalky soils.

As similar are they are, the simpler, more rounded edged petal structure of the Ashwood hybrid combined with stronger contrasting creamy white stamens is in my opinion the superior of the two. However buy them when you see them as they are almost always out of stock due to the high demand from enthusiastic collectors.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HELLEBORUS 'Penny's Pink'
HOW TO GROW HELLEBORES FROM SEED
The Black Hellebore
THE CHRISTMAS ROSE - Helleborus niger

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