Sunday, 13 January 2013


This is Stinking Hellebore or Dungwort (Helleborus foetidus).  Personally I think I prefer its other name - Bear's Foot.  It's an evergreen perennial, very easy to grow and it is taking over one of the borders in my garden.  One plant can produce hundreds of seeds; Andy bought one plant about fifteen years ago so we now have a self seeding problem!  At this time of year when there is very little else happening I don't really mind.  Despite its name I have never noticed a smell from it but I do know it is poisonous and can cause vomitting so I'm careful not to handle it too much.  It prefers well drained soil in a shaded position.

Obviously these are very easy to grow from seed but if you want a plant now Victoriana Nursery Gardens will send you 5 scented 'Miss Jekyll's' for £1.40 each.  They are also offering a Cottage Collection of mixed colours and cultivars or the hybrid Lenten Rose 'Helen Ballard' for the same price  .... the more you buy the cheaper they get ....  buy 100 they are charging 85p a plant.

Helen Ballard was famous for her work with hellebores.  She began late in life with just four plants: two whites and two reds.  Over thirty years she introduced new varieties and colours.  Farmyard Nursery offer a beautiful range of her double hellebores priced between £9.99 and £11.99 per plant.  Alternatively, if you want to follow her example, Mr Fothergills will send you a deep burgundy variety and a white one with pink edges for £12.95.

B&Q had an offer on this week in my area - three Christmas Roses for £10 which I thought quite reasonable because the plants I could see were a good size ... but they only had two! 

Ashwood Nursery have a magical collection on their website too. I can totally understand why Hellen Ballard became obsessed!

Thompson and Morgan have Christmas Rose seeds for 69 pence (40 seeds) or Washfield Doubles (10 seeds) for £4.99.  I tried them last year but they failed to germinate.  Perhaps I took them out of the fridge too soon!  I will try again this year.

This is the hellebore I wish was taking over the garden!  Helleborous niger. I bought it from Wilko last year.  It was in a very sorry state so I got it at a cut down price but it survived and it has returned this year ... it's only just appearing at the moment ... this picture is from last year.  Who knows, with some care and attention I might be telling you about another self seeding problem in fifteen years!


Feeling creative?  There is a very detailed stencil available here.  Perfect for making your own gift paper, table cloth, wall decoration ....

Use the link at the side to read more about Helen Ballard or Hellebores.


  1. My 'dungwort' has died - don't know why - it was absolutely huge. I don't think I'll be bothering to get another one as there are so many more that are far lovelier.

    1. Hi Elaine, I can send you a field full if you want!

  2. I had the stinking Hellebore, but it died. The Helleborus niger is not so easy with selfsowing, but the Hellebores orientalis (also the Helen Ballard range) are most beautiful and very easy. I bought some different ones in the past, they cross and sow themselves abundantly and now I have many different colours and speckles. They show already their buds but we have frost and now they lay flat on the soil. I think you wrote a great post on the Hellebore and I like your Amazon links on books.

    1. I bet the orientals will look lovely once it warms up again. You have such a beautiful garden. Thank you for your compliments :)

  3. This is a great post about Hellebores. Every year, when the posts about Hellebores begin, I begin to think spring. I won't see mine until March, but it's fun to see a sneak peek from other gardeners. Those stencils are beautiful, but I'm not sure my hand would be steady enough to do such intricate work.