When is a rose not a rose?

When it’s a Christmas Rose. Not in the ROSACEAE family at all, but a member of the RANUNCULACEAE, (ranunculus “little frog”) the buttercup family.  Do the buds maybe look like a frog’s ‘nose’?

We are always looking for good images to use in our leaflets and earlier this year Mike Byford of Hazles Cross Farm Nursery sent us some pictures of his hellebores.  We had been attracted by his passion for these plants ignited by a chance encounter one winter’s day.  Once popular with the Victorians, these plants have again become fashionable and over the last 20 years Mike has collected all the known Helleborus species.  Using his knowledge of plant genetics and breeding he has produced some 1000 hybrid cultivars.

So I rang Mike to ask about the names of the plants in the photographs; we had used an image of Helleborus x hybridus ‘Fuji Sunrise’ in a leaflet, but none of the other images had been named.  Being now a bit more knowledgeable about nomenclature, I wanted to share with you the names of these beautiful images.

As he was dashing out the door to an appointment, Mike gave me a quick run down about propagating hellebores.  These hybrids do not come true from seed and vegetative propagation is very slow, so he has only named a few cultivars, ‘Fuji Sunrise’  being one of them.  The plants he grows from seed to sell through his website are individually identified and photographed so that the buyer knows what they are getting.  The only name they are given is a colour and type descriptor.  (All images are copyright of Mike Byford)

The best time to visit the collection is in February, so I am hoping to visit next year and see these unique beauties in the flesh.  If you can’t get to Staffordshire then Mike will be posting images on his website of plants for sale, as they flower from January onwards.  Hadlow College in Kent hold another Collection of Helleborus mostly around Broadview Gardens.