When there is little else to pick in the garden, the hellebore* steps up.
Or bows down, such is the coy nature of its earth- gazing blooms. You could snip a few flowers and float them in a bowl for coffee table showiness, but better to cut a longish stem and pop into a vase, like this splendid swan.
Sarah Raven advises ‘conditioning’ – lowering stem ends (about 2cm) into boiling water for 30 seconds – first, and if that keeps them flowering longer, we’re all for it.
* The hellebore is also known as ‘Christmas rose’ due to its early flowering. Still pretty good in the new year, though.
And look out for more welcome winter blooms in the form of snowdrops gracing our February cover - out Wednesday 27 January.