French garden diary - December 2018

 Hellebore, a fine festive flower - They are picky but Christmas roses are great inside and out, says Cathy Thompson

Do you know the story the little shepherdess called Madelon who met the three Magi on a hill above Bethlehem? At first excited, she then wept because she had no gift for baby Jesus. But hey presto, an angel turned her tears into the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger.

It will soon be everywhere in the shops – so Madelon’s lack of gift has bloomed into our ideal present for someone who loves flowers in the home at Christmas.  Better still, after it has finished flowering it can go into the garden.

The reality is a little different, isn’t it? For a start, H. niger rarely blooms at Christmas. You can ...

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