Latin Name: Hellebores niger
Folk Names: Christmas Rose, Black Hellebore, Lenten Rose-
Hellebore likes well drained soil and thrives in shade. It has a long flowering period beginning in early spring. Whilst it is nicknamed a rose it is actually a member or the Buttercup family.
Folklore: Hellebore translates literally as “injure food” referring to its highly poisonous nature. Once used to treat madness Hellebore water is also suspected as the cause of death for Alexander the Great. In small doses, it can induce hallucinations and so is believed to have been an ingredient in medieval flying ointments whilst the dried flower, when sprinkled around a person, was said to render them invisible.
As one of the first flowers to spring from the depths of winter with their delicate bowed heads they have come to symbolize hope. They’re the only thing currently flowering in my garden so I hope they have company when I return from the snow in a couple of weeks...