Garden Lore

“A little studied negligence is becoming to a garden.”

Eleanor Perenyi Green Thoughts (1981)

Neither spray damaged nor sickly - just hard to use well

Neither spray damaged nor sickly – just hard to use well

Modern heucheras

Having used Plant Collector this week to whole heartedly recommend a new plant, the same can not be said for the yellow and orange heucheras which you will also see in almost every garden centre. I have long raised my eyebrows at these and photographed some clumps on our recent garden ambles, garnering agreement from a number of other gardeners that not all heucheras are equal and some may be best avoided.

Heucheras are North American leafy perennials and have proven most amenable to the whims of the hybridists. Not all are a triumph in terms of garden performance and appearance. The lime green form looks attractive and useful but a retailer told me it is not as reliable as the others. This discouraged me because, despite considerable efforts, I have never been very successful growing the handsome deep burgundy foliaged ones. I have, however, admired them in others’ gardens where they make an attractive show.

It is just those yellow and orange autumn tones. Novelty plants, I call them. Plant them out and how do they look? Spray damaged, is Mark’s verdict. Sickly, I say. I have never seen those particular coloured heucheras used in a way that is attractive. Be cautious of novelties. I am reserving judgement on the coral shades at this stage.

Just don’t do what I saw one gardener do – buy one of each colour and plant them in a ring around the base of a deciduous tree. Not only will they suffer from root competition, it is the look of a novice gardener.

Great nursery plants - the autumn-toned heucheras look so interesting in the garden centre but I have yet to see them perform as garden plants

Great nursery plants – the autumn-toned heucheras look so interesting in the garden centre but I have yet to see them perform as garden plants

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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