Plant Collector: Hellebore Anna’s Red

We are very impressed by Hellebore 'Anna's Red'

We are very impressed by Hellebore ‘Anna’s Red’

It takes a special plant in a garden centre to make us think immediately that we must have it there and then. This new hellebore is one.

There are three stand-out features. It holds its flowers well above the foliage and they are outward facing so displayed well. The foliage is beautifully marbled and interesting in itself. The flower colour is an attractive magenta-burgundy but without brown tones that often mute those colours.

I did a search to see if I could find the breeding but all the internet tells me is that it is one of the “Rodney Davey marbled group”, Davey being the breeder. Fair enough – it is the work of a dedicated hellebore specialist and if he does not wish to disclose the breeding, that is his right. Looking at it, our guess is that it probably has quite a bit of H. niger in it, in which case to get this strong colour into that species is a real triumph. It is the way the flower is displayed that makes us think of niger (some of you may grow “White Magic” with its upward-facing flowers). While there are similar burgundy colours in the H. orientalis group, none of them display their flowers as well and we have yet to see these combined with such attractive, marbled foliage.

The breeder lives in the south of England and the plant was named for prominent garden writer, Anna Pavord. Fortunately, due to the wonders of micropagation (tissue culture), the plant has been multiplied hugely and is available everywhere that I can see, in both this country and overseas. It is worth having and no, I was not given a plant to review. We truly did spot it in a garden centre and buy it.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.