Sunday, December 28, 2014

Do I use a spade - or a spoon?

Judging strictly by the names of these heucheras, it's hard to know whether we're expected to plant or eat them. I mean, serious marketing going on here when you have names like 'Raspberry Chiffon' and 'Dark Chocolate,' 'Root Beer' amd 'Berry Smoothie.' What about 'Tiramisu' and 'Pear Crisp,' 'Pistache' and 'Caramel'? Mouth watering yet?

Do I use a spade - or a spoon?

Judging strictly by the names of these heucheras, it's hard to know whether we're expected to plant or eat them. I mean, serious marketing going on here when you have names like 'Raspberry Chiffon' and 'Dark Chocolate,' 'Root Beer' amd 'Berry Smoothie.' What about 'Tiramisu' and 'Pear Crisp,' 'Pistache' and 'Caramel'? Mouth watering yet?

Actually, it's hard to take in the dozens and dozens of heucheras in the latest Mt. Cuba trials and not salivate. This is one terrific plant, although I think consumers could do without the piling on that seems to be occurring. The thinking goes something like this: If one purple heuchera is good, many more is much better, sort of like the unimaginative group-think in Hollywood that if one movie is a blockbuster, a clone-like sequel is a great idea!

There are other colors, of course, and these are the ones that a lot of us like - the reds, pinks, bright greens. There's great variety in foliage, too; some leaves are curly, some are huge, new growth on some purple ones comes out as red. Beautiful.

And one of the most beautiful things about them is that heucheras are perfect for shade gardens, bringing brightness, easy care and typically a nice rounded shape that doesn't really need dividing. Carol Wolfington of Bryn Mawr, a home gardener who designs perennial gardens for others on the side, has seen the trend: More folks are realizing that shade can be an interesting asset, rather than a liability and a repository for boring stuff like English ivy - and heucheras fit right in.

Story coming Friday. Assuming I can find some shade, and some quiet, to write it.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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