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Graham With HelleboresI started growing and hybridising hellebores 20 years ago and, as things do, it soon became an obsession. Living in Gloucestershire, UK, just a few miles from the border with Wales, I was not far from the home of the late Helen Ballard, who was one of the great hybridizers of Helleborus orientalis.

Hellebore Bed

Visiting Helens garden/nursery regularly during the Winter and Spring each year magnified my obsession and in 1988 we moved to our new home because the 2 acre site was ideal for growing hellebores. We were on a 60 degree north facing slope - very well drained but very cold. Between September and March the garden got no sun as the slope was so steep. Hellebores loved it and we soon had over 2,000 clumps in the garden, as well as over 1,000 growing in pots for hand pollination each year. As the number of plants I grew in pots increased, it became clear that I needed a larger area of flat land for storage. In 2002 we moved, yet again, to our present home in south Wales. After a lengthy period of moving plants we now have a slightly smaller garden but a separate level area for pot grown plants.

Seed resulting from hand pollination is germinated and grown on to flowering size - usually 3 years. Plants that are worth keeping are either planted out or grown on in large pots. Plants not worth keeping are thrown away.

Hellebores benefit from division once the clumps reach a certain size. In 1991, I began selling divisions of my hellebores in September/October each year, which is the prime time for dividing plants. In 1996, I began selling some of these divisions to friends in the US and to a couple of nurseries.

Since 2001, with increasing stocks of plants, I have been selling 3-4 year old plants, grown from seed, which have flowered at least once so that I can verify flower color. In some cases, plant divisions are potted up and re-grown until they have again flowered. These are then sold in the same way as the seed grown plants

Mixed Color HelleboresHellebore hybrids are offered for sale by colour. The range of colours is almost limitless, but to make it easier I break them down into the general groups, from white through pinks and reds, Shades of Night (the purple and blue blacks) and yellow, apricot and picotee that you will find on the catalog page.

In addition to Hellebore hybrids, I also offer the following species hellebores. All are seed grown plants and are flowering size (they will flower next spring)
  • Helleborus argutifolius
  • Helleborus foetidus
  • Helleborus niger
  • Helleborus x sternii
  • Helleborus torquatus
Even I admit that there are some periods (not many) when hellebores are not in flower in the garden. Over the years I have tried a wide range of shade plants and have found several which are very tough and will not just grow, but will flower in our cold, dry garden. I'm very pleased to be able to offer an exciting list of these in addition to a selection of rare and unusual plants for the decerning gardener this year.

Select the links at the top left of the page to access the plant lists. We will be adding images and descriptions as time permits. Until then, if you need additional information about any of the plants listed, please email.
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Graham Birkin
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