Have you tidied up your Hellebores yet? It's been such a mild winter so far that most of them still have nice-looking green leaves, so it's been tempting to leave the old leaves in place.
But now the new shoots are starting to appear, and the new shoots are the flower buds, so it's time to take action and get rid of the old leaves.
Firstly, because then you can see the new flowers in all their glory: from the early buds, through the bent-over-protectively phase, to the wonderful open blooms themselves.
Secondly because if you don't do it now, you will find that it's really difficult to get the old leaves out without damaging the new flowers. If you do it now, while the buds are still quite small, it's quick and easy.
And finally, the main reason for getting rid of the leaves is due to the prevalence of Hellebore Black Spot, a disease which discolours the leaves, as the name suggests, and which can ruin the plant, as it will spread from the leaves to the flower shoots, spoiling the flowers before they even open. By removing the leaves before the flowers appear, you can prevent this happening.
Even better, if you remove the leaves in Autumn as soon as they show the slightest sign of blackening (as I do), and if you do it every year, you can eradicate the disease from your plants altogether, so it's a good thing to do.
People often cry out in horror at the thought of baring the tender flower buds to the mercies of snow, frost etc, but they don't mind cold weather at all: I've been maintaining Hellebores this way for well over a decade, and I have never noticed a single example of frost damage. Winter flowering plants are designed to take it!
I never compost Hellebore leaves, by the way - because of the risk of this Black Spot disease. I always burn them or put them in the council green waste bin, where they will get composted at a much higher temperature than we can achieve in our garden compost pens. I also, privately, think that they don't rot very well, so I wouldn't really want them on my compost heaps anyway!
The photos above show a large clump of Hellebore which I was asked to prune last week: as you can see, the leaves are showing black spots, so I advised the owner about the disease, and they have promised to cut back the leaves in autumn next year. Then we have the flowers - already quite tall, as you can see - standing clear, and a closer view so we can appreciate how much nicer they look without the tatty old leaves covering them up.