A riot of colour graced the sales table at our garden club meeting last week. The topic for the evening was heucheras. Our speaker was Vicky Fox from Jubilee Cottage Nursery near Crewe, who earlier this year won a gold medal at their very first Chelsea Flower Show. They have also won gold medals at Cardiff, Hampton Court, BBC Gardener's World Live and Harrogate. The standards that they must meet at shows is exacting. There must not be any leaves with marks, good composition is important and the heucheras must be planted in what would be a suitable situation for them. The judges also like to see the plants in flower. The Chelsea gold medal has opened many more doors to them. Vicky and her husband Richard also sell their plants online at : www.plantagogo.com
Vicky's introduction focused on the origins of their nursery before she went on to talk about heucheras (common name - coral bells) in more detail. The genus was named after Johann Heinrich von Heucher, an 18th century German physician. One of the questions that Vicky is regularly asked concerns the pronunciation of heuchera. Should it be :
Hu- Ker -ah ?
Hoy-ker -ah ?
Strictly speaking it should be the latter but her opinion was that either pronunciation is acceptable. In the UK most people would opt for the former.
Evil weevils - heucheras live in dread of encountering vine weevils. The eggs of the vine weevil look a bit like Osmocote. They are laid in the crown of the plant and are washed down into the ground by rainfall. The weevil then attacks the roots of the plants. Vicky suggested collecting the weevils at night by picking them off plants (they hide during the day). Hedgehogs, chickens and robins would all be happy to be served up with the grubs for their supper. Vicky suggested that should your heucheras be attacked by weevils that there is still hope for the plant. She recommended giving the crown of the plant a good tap to make sure that there are no weevils still lurking and then repotting or replanting. Quite often the plant will grow new roots.
Vicky then ran through her heuchera top ten :
'Mahogany' - a sun lover - the foliage of which resembles a polished conker in the autumn.
'Green Spice' - a reliable plant with big leaves. The leaves have a green round edge which becomes more pronounced as the year unfolds. Prefers a shady spot.
'Southern Comfort' - huge leaves which go bronze in late summer and look as if they have been sprayed with paint.
'Blackout' - rounded young foliage which becomes very black when mature.
'Tiramisu' - stunning foliage.
'Caramel' - makes a good specimen plant. Likes a bit of sun but will grow in shade. The leaves though will develop brown marks if grown in too much sun.
'Sparkling Burgundy' - looks glittery when wet.
'Beauty Colour' - needs some shade. Good sized leaves.
'Plum Royal' - adores the sun. Rich colouring. Silvery young foliage. Described by Vicky as a "designer's dream".
'Bronze Beauty' - has a great autumnal look. Shiny big leaves.
'Marmalade' - fine in full sun. Flowers well. A fabulous plant.
Now this top ten stretched to eleven as Vicky was unable to leave any of them out.
More to come later this week on the new for 2010 heucheras !