Hellebore Hygiene19th January 2017 • In The Garden • Stephanie Donaldson
January is when I gradually work my way round the garden, cutting away the old hellebore leaves, carefully raking away the leaf litter to reveal the new growth, top dressing the plants with well-rotted leafmould and then mulching them with bark. The old leaves can carry disease, so when I cut them back I don’t compost them, but throw them away. I also dig up and dispose of any plants with blackened leaves – known as hellebore black death, it will spread to healthy plants if not dealt with. The emerging flowers and foliage appear too delicate for this time of year, but are actually pretty impervious to the weather and will soon brighten the garden with their nodding blooms and fresh leaves. As woodland plants, they prefer leafmould to richer compost and the bark will keep the worst of the weather at bay and retain moisture in the soil during the drier months of the year.