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The fashion for hellebores has lasted more than half a century, beginning with the shyer cup-shaped ones with rounded petals that are often referred to as the Ballard strain.These were bred in the Sixties by Helen Ballard, an amateur who married into a family of nurserymen who specialised in Michaelmas daisies. From four plants – two with red flowers and two with white — she extended the colour range and concentrated on creating more vigorous and upright plants, until her contribution to the breeding of hellebores was acknowledged worldwide.

When John gets a craze for a plant he grows every form of it, so that gardeners can benefit from his passionate research.

Hellebores, salvias, Anemone pavonina have all caught on with amateurs because of this man’s collecting zeal.

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Breeders like a flower they can transform into every shape and colour. These formerly modest woodlanders, that are sometimes known as Lenten roses because they are at their peak in the dark days of abstinence, no longer look like wildlings.

Billed by Bonhams as one of the most famous Ferraris there is, this one is being sold with certification to say it was driven by Selleck before being returned to Ferrari North America when filming of series 5 of the action-packed crime drama concluded.

Once back at the US Ferrari headquarters, this Magnum 232bhp 308 GTS Quattrovalvole was serviced, repainted and sold as a new car.

These days, they come in green, yellow, pink, apricot, red, white, cream, purple and slate black.

Sky blue is perhaps the only shade denied the hybridisers.

Most of her collection went to Germany, although I have one, 'Greencups’, that was a Ballard cultivar.

Elizabeth Strangman is another famous hellebore breeder.

Her horticultural training and her eye for a good plant took the breeding of hellebores a stage further at Washfield Nursery in Kent during the Seventies and Eighties.

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