When I first got into perennials, I remember really falling in love with Heucheras. I would raise my nose to the 'Palace Purple' users, and befriend those that would use 'Amber Waves' and 'Lime Rickey' and 'Obsidian.' Of course, with a couple years experience, I learned that 'Palace Purple' is a great plant and nothing to be scoffed at and I rarely see 'Amber Waves' in nursery catalogs anymore. Five years after planting the original Heuchera comparison garden here at Midwest Groundcovers, 'Palace Purple' is still one of the best looking plants out there. PPA got it right when they named this one Perennial Plant of the Year in 1991. It is a timeless classic! But there is a new wave of Heuchera that are much different from the past. They have been bred with the species H. villosa. This enables the plant to do better in hot, humid conditions. Heuchera is the next Hosta. Foliage plants for the shade! The only major difference is that there are over 1700 varieties of Hosta listed by Royal Horticulture Society whereas there are only 283 listed for Heuchera. Anyways, here are five that we are going to start selling in 2009.
'Tiramisu' and the following plant, 'Miracle', were a bit disappointing at first to me. Pictures in catalogs showed very colorful foliage. Tiramisu was supposed to be chartreuse, orange, and red all at the same time. Quite spectacular I must say! What you need to know is that these are fall colors. Some vendors are now calling them "color changing" Heuchera. I do find this to be quite attractive. And the bonus we found is that while it is yellow to chartreuse all summer, it is quite vigorous. I still recommend these, but I don't want people to be surprised by the appearance like I was.
'Miracle' is the other one where the colors in the catalog didn't match what I was seeing in the containers or in the ground. This is the new flush of foliage as well as it's fall color. It's not quite the brick red you may see all over the Internet. But quite attractive nonetheless. In the garden, this was the best looking chartreuse variety throughout the summer. It is a robust plant with a lot of substance. And in fall and spring you get the wonderful veination that you see in the picture to the left.
'Georgia Peach' is a variety from Terra Nova. When I saw the color of the foliage for the first time, I fell in love. The silver over pinkish-red is quite attractive in a heavily shaded area. It looks best in spring and fall, during periods of cooler weather. And quite the surprise came when beautiful dainty white flowers appeared in late spring. They were really nice for a Heuchera! And as you can see by the picture, they make a great combination with Pulmonaria 'Trevi Fountain'.
'Mocha' is a favorite of many here at the office. The plant itself is much larger than any other Heuchera in the garden. The foliage is like coffee with cream just poured into it. In fact the leaves sometimes have the swirling effect of cream poured gently into a cup of steaming hot coffee. Iridescent foliage is one way to tell if the plant is a H. villosa type or not. This is why I tend to agree with Dan Heims, author of Heucheras and Heucherella, that 'Palace Purple' is actually a member of the H. villosa species and not H. macrantha. RHS has still not changed it though.
Heucherella 'Alabama Sunrise' of course is a hybrid between Heuchera and Tiarella. This is the first of my knowledge to have been bred with H. villosa bloodlines. Past introductions of 'Sunspot' and 'Stoplight' don't come close to 'Alabama Sunrise'. In the trials here, it was one of the more talked about plants from landscape designers and architects. And unlike the first two plants talked about today, this one has it's color all year. On top of being a great landscape plant, this would look great in a mixed container as well.
Later in the season, we could have a couple other new varieties to offer. We'll talk about them when the time comes. As spring gets closer, the anticipation grows by leaps and bounds. I hope you all have a great day! And remember, this is the last post of winter, as March 20th is the first day of spring. Woohoo!!!! Until next time......