Hinton Ampner Garden

Helleborus hybridus ‘Harvington Double Red’

Lenten or Christmas Rose


The Winter Border in the Walled Garden


There are some 200 or more named varieties of this plant and most are in the range of white to magenta, with pinks and mauves, spotted or unspotted, being common. But this is an unusual variety, with gorgeous, nodding or outward-facing, sauce saucer-shaped red, double flowers with curved petals from late winter to early spring. There are also greens, yellows, blues and many other possible variations not to mention virtually endless combinations of spotting and veining. The flowers have a range of shapes and sizes, with the possibility of doubles or semi-doubles, from round cup-shaped overlapping sepals to pointed star-shaped sepals.

Site and Care:

Their dark green, glossy foliage is maintained over winter but in late January or February it is helpful to cut back the old foliage to better view the emerging flower stalks. The buds usually emerge from the soil sometime between January and March, although they may be earlier or later depending on their genes, as well as the local weather conditions. Open to partially shaded locations suit them best, in any type of soil enhanced with leaf mould or compost but avoid sites that dry-out in summer. Although they resent being moved propagation is by division of established clumps. To answer the often asked question, ‘When should they be divided’; it can be at almost any time of the year but early to mid-spring or early autumn is generally the most successful. Alternatively, they can be grown from seed or self-sown seedlings can be encouraged or transplanted.