Not a happy Helleborus

PhasmidPhasmid Posts: 41

Hello everyone

I'm a new gardener and I wondered if some more experienced people have any advice.

I have moved to a new house and large garden. The garden is southwest facing and has quite a large shady area. It is shady partly because it only gets the sun for a few hours and partly because there is a massive oak tree, the canopy of which extends over most of one end of the garden. The rest of the garden gets the sun for between a third and the whole of the day.

Ive read a lot in this forum about gardening in shady areas so I thought that In the shade/dappled shade area I could make a "woodland garden"  and have been compiling a list of possible plants to grow there. One of the plants I've read could be good is Helleborus.

Today I noticed that a couple of the "mystery plants" already growing in the shady area are Helleborus. They are quite large but their leaves are very tattered and holey and they don't seem particularly happy. Also I've been here since May but I haven't seen them flower.

Does anyone have any advice as to things I could do to care for these established plants and make them happier? The previous owners did not to any gardening at all so the plants have not been watered, mulched, fed etc for years and also they are sharing the area with rather a lot of brambles and bindweed (which I plan to remove!). 

Also, does anyone have any stories to share of neglected gardens they have taken over and transformed that could give me inspiration for where the heck to even start with this garden?! 

Thank you so much to anyone who replies image 

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  • Verdun is the one to answer this thread.... You could trim the damaged leaves off now they should produce more in the new year.. They tend to flower jan, feb time so they would have finished by the time you moved in. A good mulch and dig in some well rotted compost around them won't hurt. Hellebores suffer from something called black spot cut off any leaves that are affected ( I had to cut mine down 2/3 last year) they will come back...... That's about my knowledge on them.... Welcome to the forum how exciting waiting to see what colour they are.....

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,806

    Welcome Phasmid image

    This garden had once been home to a keen gardener, but as she had become old and infirm the garden had been neglected, and then the next owner just blitzed everything, except the rampant ivy which grew up the house, up the trees and make the fences 6 feet wide.  We moved here 2 years ago and bit by bit we are bringing it back to life - the ivy has been dug out, the fences renewed, the lawn and trees cared for, and little jewels are appearing - at the moment the banks and lawn are covered with tiny white Cyclamen hederafolium - such a welcome sight - and in the spring a variety of different aquilegia appeared, popping up all over the place.  I'm glad you found your Hellebores image

    My guess is that your hellebores are probably quite happy where they are - their leaves will look old and tatty at this time of year - I usually cut the old ones off when I'm tidying the garden up for the winter.  You've not seen any flowers yet because they usually flower between Christmas and Easter - in fact some are called Christmas Rose, and others the Lenten Rose.  

    Clearing the ground around them of weeds is a good idea, but keep your eyes open for baby hellebores - tiny versions of the tatty old leaves you have now - hellebores happily self seed around themselves.  If you find some you can pot them up in a humous-rich loamy compost and keep them in an airy coldframe until they are big enough to plant out.  When you've weeded you can mulch around (not over) the mature plants with leaf mould, compost or well-rotted farmyard manure.  They will be even happier than they are now.

    And then, when the cold weather comes you'll keep inspecting them for new shoots coming from the ground, and eventually there will be your hellebores - when they appear take some pics and post them on here to show us please - we like happy endings image

    But it might also be the start of an obsession - there are many varieties of hellebores, some are hardy and some need special care .... watch out, you might become another hellebore obsessive image

    Oh, and while I'm about it, keep your eyes open for signs of hedgehogs - a neglected garden is very likely to have at least one resident - we have them visit our terrace every evening.  Please don't tidy the garden too much - leave piles of twigs and dry leaves in sheltered corners for the hedgehogs to hibernate in. 

    Lots of info here http://www.hedgehogstreet.org/pages/hedgehog-street.html 

    Good luck image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • When I moved into my house I marveled at the flowers until I walked round and noticed they were plastic!!!! 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,806

    image

     

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,256

    That hellebore obsession can be serious(ly expensive)

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rejuvenating-Garden-Stephen-Anderton/dp/1856264351

    This is a good book. practical advice, not the TV based entertainment that a lot of books are now. 

  • Thank you for the advice Dovefromabove and nutcutlet and Stacy and to everyone for the stories! Plastic flowers?!?!?!?! I'm really pleased to have some guidelines to follow with the Hellebores and will definitely post a photo when they flower. 

    I've been looking out for hedgehogs but haven't spotted one yet, we used to have them in my old tiny garden but not here which is strange because the garden backs onto woodland and there is a hole in the fence where they could get in easily image 

    I've made a big pile of twigs, grass, wood etc and a few other piles of stuff so hopefully they will appear soon! If not at least there's plenty of hibernation spots for insects!

     

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,806

    It sounds a lovely garden - can we see some photos of how it is now? image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,806

    2 - 4 ft Verdun!  Whatever do you mulch yours with???  

    image

     image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,256

    that's 18" in east anglia speak Dove

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