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Showing posts from January, 2016

Hellebore lore

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The Christmas rose, or Helleborus niger, is a fascinating plant from a folklore point of view, and since this is the traditional season for sitting around the fire and telling stories - I thought I would concentrate more on myths and legends than on practical horticulture. We’ve grown Helleborus niger, or black hellebore, here in the UK for centuries, but it isn’t a native plant. It’s found in the mountainous regions of southern and central Europe, but it has been used by healers since well before the birth of Christ, so it may well have been brought here by the Romans. It likes partial shade, and neutral to alkali soil, so a woodland garden in the Cotswolds is an ideal habitat.  First, let’s look at its name, Christmas rose. A legend tells how a little girl accompanied the shepherds to the manger at Bethlehem when they went to pay homage to the infant Christ. She felt ashamed that she had no gift, and stood outside the stable weeping. An angel appeared, and as the girl’s tears fell o…