The Teddington Gardener

Dark chocolate and blackberry

Dark leaved Heucheras, very useful ‘evergreen’ perennials

Now I love a Heuchera and every season, there are more and more to delight. These three are in the darker spectrum, Mahogany (rich, chocolately), Black Beauty (glossy, deep blackcurrant) and Binoche (unusually, a matt near-black).

Typically growing to between 40-80cm, a leafy crown of ruffled leaves, topped by small bell-shaped flowers in a range of colours (creams, corals, salmons, red – both smouldering ember and pillar-box), held high on wiry stems. Most enjoy dappled shade, with a fertile, well drained soil. There are varieties that can cope with more sun, or deeper shade, and dryer soils.

Many varieties are already established household names – Plum Pudding for example. Silver Scrolls (used in my recent Strawberry Hill project) is typical of many where the leaves appear to be overlaid with a metallic tracery that is very attractive. Softer colours come in with varieties like Sweet Tea and Marmalade. Bright greens are in the catalogue too, like Lime Rickey. Galaxy changes colour as the season develops and I am looking out for this variety – two heuchera specialists – Heucheraholics and Plantagogo – might be the answer though I have seen one, other or both firms at the RHS London Shows, the Wisley Spring Fair and Hampton Court Flower Show and this new variety was not to be seen…

Providing contrast in colour and texture, with some superb flowering forms too, Heucheras (not to mention Tiarellas and their love-child, Heucherallas) these plants are beautiful, year round plants for borders and containers (in pots particularly, beware vine weevils) and fine garden plants.

Look out for some of these other varieties – Fireworks, Raspberry Royale, Can Can, Amythest Myst, Ginger Ale, Berry Smoothie, Lipstick, Peach Flambe, Cajun Fire, Obsidian, Vesuvius.

Beware though, it is very easy to become a little/more than a little compulsive about Heucheras and their ilk. The folk at Plantagogo, who hold the National Collection for Heucheras, Heucherellas and Tiarellas (over 400 varieties), are positively potty about them and their enthusiasm is infectious. Many varieties are commonly available and more and more cultivars are introduced (mainly from the US but increasingly home grown too) each year.

Just one more to squeeze into the garden then, and maybe another….

Growing and care tips are expertly provided on the Plantagogo website –

http://www.plantagogo.com/acatalog/Growing_Tips___Information.html

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