Cuttings: Christmas yet to come

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The Independent Online
WHY DOES my Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, never flower at Christmas? There it is, on Christmas cards everywhere, looking succulent, white and willing. Mine is not willing. Every year the Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis, flowers first.

I thought the problem might be the cold position I grew it in, so I moved some to a warmer spot. It managed late January. I mentioned my recalcitrant hellebore to a friend, who said: 'Have some of mine. It's always out for Christmas.' I did, and it is.

The moral is simple. Never put up with a plant that is second best. And never trust a hellebore from seed to do just what you expect; they are a promiscuous and unpredictable lot, as any nurseryman will tell you. Fortunately, most of their offspring (the hellebores, that is) are lovable bastards.