When she knows we are due to my visit my Mum tries to save the gardening section from recent Daily Telegraphs as she knows I like to read them, and in one of these saved issues was a response from Helen Yemm, the regular columnist, to a reader enquiring about hellebores in vases. She gave the popular solution, floating hellebore heads in water, the flower arrangers’ tip of dipping the last inch of stem in not quite boiling water, but had an intriguing third suggestion, given to her by a reader many years ago: keeping the stem underwater, crush the bottom 1½” of stem then, still with the flower under water, cut through the stem with scissors which will remove an airlock and the cut ends will then stiffen and splay out.
It may be towards the end of the hellebore season (the article was from a February issue) but while it was fresh in my mind I thought I would try the latter technique out so I would know for next year. To make it more of a ‘scientific’ experiment, I picked one flower where the seed capsules were beginning to form, following a suggestion of Julie from Peonies and Posies, and three others still in full health. One of the latter was untreated, one was dunked in hot water, and the other had the crush and cut treatment; I could have also floated another head in water but I already know they can continue looking beautiful for a week like this. To make it a ‘fair’ test, I ensured not only that the glasses were identical but that they all had the same amount of water. Let the experiment begin!
As an added bonus, whilst looking for a fourth ‘crocus glass’ (has anyone successfully grown crocus in one of these?!), I found a green and a purple crocus glass I had forgotten I had kept – ideal for little posies on a Monday!