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Flower of the hour: Helleborus orientalis, known as the Lenten hellebore, whose flowers are weird, witchy colours, markings as individual as fingerprints. Most dramatic are the slaty, wine-coloured flowers, the petals dulled with grape-bloom. These hellebores grow happily in deep shade, provided it is not dry and starved. The flowers last a long time, the colour slowly ebbing from the petals till they become like old parchment. As the flowers begin to fade, the new foliage comes through the ground: strong, hand-shaped leaves that last all year, making a good foil for later perennials that are less well endowed. Plant in October in part- shade in deep, well-drained moist soil and then leave them alone. They hate to be chivvied.

The Royal Horticultural Society is holding an orchid show today (10am- 5pm) and tomorrow (10am-4pm) at its hall in Vincent Square, Westminster, London SW1. Plants for sale. Admission pounds 5 today, pounds 3 tomorrow.

The Alpine Garden Society is holding a show today (12pm-4.30pm) at Burleigh Community College, Thorpe Hill, Loughborough, with classes for primulas, cyclamen, saxifrages, dwarf narcissus, fritillaries and corydalis. Admission pounds 1.

The Harlow Carr Botancial Gardens at Crag Lane in Harrogate is holding a series of spring courses. These include: alpines today (1.30-4pm); propagation on Wednesday 10am-4pm), pruning roses on Thursday (1.30-4pm), and pests on Saturday (10am-4pm). Further details from the Education Dept on 01423 565418.

Brundall mint beat 30 other varieties in a taste test organised last season by the seed firm Marshalls. The mint, named after the Norfolk village where it was first grown, has long, dark, glossy leaves and can be forced in a greenhouse to provide supplies before outdoor plants get into their stride. Send pounds 5.75 for three roots, to SE Marshall & Co Ltd, Wisbech, Cambs PE13 2RF (01945 583407).

"I wonder if you can help with a book suggestion," asks Geraldine Martin of Penarth. "I should like to know if there is a dictionary in which one could look up the names of all the people who have plants named after them. I would like to be able to look up Henry, Hooker, Miss Willmott, Parkdirektor Riggers etc, just to know who they were."

Some of the people Mrs Martin mentions, such as Sir Joseph Hooker, the Victorian director of Kew Gardens, and Ellen Willmott, the famous plantswoman of Warley Place in Essex, are listed in The Oxford Companion to Gardens (Oxford University Press, pounds 29.50), but this book, which covers the world, lists only the most famous names in any country. So Augustine Henry, for example, the famous Irish plant collector, is not listed.

The only book I know that is devoted to people who gave their names to plants is Who Does Your Garden Grow? by Alex Pankhurst (Earls Eye Publishing, pounds 10.95). But Augustine Henry isn't there, either. Mrs Martin will have to make do with Mary Henry, who collected and named the phlox 'Chatterhoochee'. Nora Barlow (aquilegia) and Maggie Mott (viola) are other unsung heroines whose stories are told by Ms Pankhurst. The book is available direct from Earls Eye Publishing, Lamb Corner, Dedham, Colchester, Essex CO7 6EE.