a floral alphabet ~ hellebores
When it is bitterly cold outside, as it has been this week, the gift of a hellebore, or winter rose, which blooms seemingly against all the odds, is all the more precious. Along with camellias, they are the stars of the winter garden.
Actually, along with camellias, and a stunted but much loved daphne, they are not only the stars of my winter garden, but almost the only thing to pick in the whole of my tiny garden galaxy. I love them so much they are in danger of being picked before they’ve actually had a chance to grow. So this week, when my sweet florist asked if I would like some beautiful looking hellebores, I quickly said yes before she had the chance to change her mind.
I love the variations in colour, from deep plum to speckled lilac, blush pink, green and white. And, if I can manage the patience to let them grow a while in the garden before I pick them, I love how as they age, they change colour, with the flowers literally lasting for weeks.
I like to arrange these beautiful stems simply, usually as a single stem in a single bottle, or a cluster of bottles together. With the luxury of a whole bunch (what a treat!), today I have mixed the different colours together in a large old glass battery vessel.
As a cut flower hellebores can be fickle, and tend to wilt, so here are a few simple tips, passed on by my favourite florists, to help ensure they last as long as possible –
Pick your stems early in the morning if you can. Pick flowers that are not too open and buds that are not too unripe.
Minimise the time the flowers spend out of water.
Remove any leaves that will be underwater. Condition your hellebores by firstly, filling a jar with about 5cm of hand hot water. Allow the water to cool for a few minutes, then, cut a centimetre or two off the bottom of each stem on an angle and stand them in the hot water for a good half an hour or more.
Then arrange the stems in lukewarm water. If the flowers flop, resuscitate them by retrimming the stems and repeating the hot water routine.
I know you are meant to change the vase water daily. Meant to. Despite all my good intentions, this rarely happens for my vases. I know, I am my own worst enemy!
(photos & styling Amanda Holland for perfectly imperfect living)