Early spring is when one plant in particular, the Hellebore, becomes the star of the show. More commonly known as the Lenten Rose hellebores are perennial which means the plant will come up year after year. They belong in the Ranunculaceae family with 15 species within the genus. Most of the modern new hybrids are crosses from Hellebore orientalis and John Massey of Ashwood Nurseries in the Midlands has created a number of award winning cultivars. They provide a splash of colour in the garden when everything else is waiting for warmer weather to return. Always trim the foliage down to the ground in the Autumn to avoid black spot and other diseases being carried in the leaves. They thrive in neutral or slightly alkaline soil especially when organic matter is incorporated into the soil. Position them in a shaded or partially shaded area where they will seed freely or multiple through division. Seed can be collected in June and sown fresh in seed trays which will start a new generation of hellebores for your garden. The petals are actually sepals (modified leaves) which means they stay on the plant for about two months providing a lasting display. To admire the detail of the inner sepal markings collect a few flowers and float them in a bowl of water indoors for everyone to enjoy.