We were up in the North West last weekend for the undergardener’s cousin’s 80th Birthday. Unknown to me, the undergardener had googled “Hellebores” and found the National Collection of Hellebores was just off the M6 Motorway in Staffordshire and convenient to where we were heading. You don’t always get it right when you google an address…….
We stopped first at a rather forboding looking farmhouse, Hazel Farm, it looked more and more run down the nearer we got. No polytunnels in sight, no hellebores to be seen, by the time we reached the farmyard we fully expected an irate farmer to appear with a shotgun and a fierce dog, telling us to “get off his land”! We did a quick about turn, then drove further down the road and eventually found Hazles Cross Farm Nursery, home to the National Collection of Hellebores with its charming and very knowledgeable owner, Mike Byford.
We were immediately taken round to the polytunnel where the collection was housed and spent a very happy hour listening to Mike talk about his collection and where he has collected the seed from.
The collection are planted in huge pots and look extremely happy.
The first long row of pots on the left were all species which Mike uses in his breeding programme.
I did have this beauty once but it didn’t appear a second time, after chatting to Mike about it, I think it was our winter wet that didn’t suit it.
Mike doesn’t name his crosses, they all have numbers, but I thought this was was perfection. Dark nectaries, a very thin line of purple round the edge of the petals and a few delicate purple spots like a dusting of freckles!
I finally arrived at the “Sale” table and these 3 jumped out at me as they were so different from all the ones I already have. Ignore the little pot of iris, I’ll tell you all about them in my next post!
It was now time for us to continue our journey, Mike gave me a leaflet about the nursery and when I read it in the car, there in large red lettering, it said, By Appointment Only! Sorry Mike, thank you for being so good to 2 travellers who just turned up without an appointment, thank you for your knowledge and patience, I spent a wonderful hour with you and your hellebores!
If you would like to look at the nursery website, go to www.hazelscrossfarmnursery.co.uk