Friday, 16 March 2012

A cure for melancholia?

A cure for melancholia
The hellebores are performing really well throughout the garden – both in dry shade and full sunshine. One of the oldest cultivated plants, Pliny said that the daughters of Proteus, King of Argos, were cured of a mental disease by drinking the milk of goats fed on hellebore. In the seventeenth century, the roots were dried and ground to a powder, to be taken like snuff for the relief of headaches and moods of melancholia.

Rather than such drastic measures, I recommend ensuring that last season’s leaves have been removed to allow the full beauty of the flower heads to shine through and the new leaves to unfurl. We cannot but fail to be uplifted by the unassuming glory of these plants. They lower their heads modestly but, by merely tipping these demure flowers on the chin, intense pleasure can be gained, once their magnificence is revealed.

I often snip two or three stems to bring into the house. (Dipping the stalks in boiling water for a few seconds clears the stem and ensures that they can absorb water freely). The elegance of the flowers is best enjoyed by placing the vase at eye level for the flower heads obstinately remain standing shyly downwards.

Self-healing horticultural medication at its best!

Enjoy. Gillian


  1. I feel better already. Lovely picture of Pablo. Waiting now for the story of his life!

  2. Interested to hear which flowers etc you have decided to grow in your greenhouse. Tilly