Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Old is Better

Day 116
The Daily DuBrule

Sometimes an old fashioned plant, a straight species, a non-hybrid, is just what the doctor ordered. When I moved into my home eight years ago, I forced myself to observe the gardens for a full year before planting and adding new beds. I found that there were quite a few existing perennials, mostly in the colors of yellow and pink. I inventoried them all and wove them into my new master plan which I began implementing in year two. One of the greatest gifts that came with this house was a huge clump of old fashioned coral bells, also known as Heuchera sanguinea. If you remember that the inspiration for my friend Jenny's 365-day-blog was Heucheras (she did 365 days of Heuchera, God bless her), it is ironic to think that I am now singing the praises of a common, non-fancy form.

The coral-pink flowers on this plant rise up a good 24". They make ideal cut flowers and last a long time in a vase. They bloom in the garden for over a month. The foliage is the classic rosette of green leaves, scalloped and touched with a bit of silver. Hummingbirds love this plant. 


Once I realized what I had, I proceeded to divide this plant to within inches of its life. I added three large drifts to three separate spots in the front of my borders. They do a great job of anchoring the outer edge and look nice interspersed with Stokesias for later color. I also brought a nice clump to Natureworks and split it and created a large mass in the demonstration gardens there. Why? This is actually not an easy plant to find anymore and it is a classic that belongs in all old fashioned gardens. You can find 365 or more fancy Heucheras, but sometimes I think old is better. 

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