Food for bumble bees in winter
As I write the Hellebores are flowering in my garden. At 1200' on Dartmoor, it is very early, even before my snowdrops. Helleborus Niger was used by the ancients as a purgative, but is now known to be toxic. It is used in Homeopthic Medicine and in cancer therapy. Because of it's toxicity do not self medicate. I include it here as a valuble plant in your garden. As a winter flowereing plant it provides food for bumble bees emerging from hibernation. If bumble bees emerge early because of warm conditions, they struggle to find enough food. Helleborus Orientalis are the easiest and most colourful to grow, with flowers that range from white, pink to deep purple, often speckled. In the right conditions Hellebores will self seed easily. They like semi shade, shelter and soil with a high organic content. I liberally mulch my Hellebores in the Autumn, protecting their roots and providing nutrients at flowering time.
Best grown under deciduous shrubs and Herbaceous borders, they provide interest and colour at a much needed time. In the summer their striking deep green leaves contrast with lighter coloured plants.