Monday, March 29, 2021

In the Garden By Catherine Dougherty Coral Bells At last… Spring! The weather has been blustery but balmy, leaving those of us who garden with perfect days to prepare the garden for the coming season. The perennials are making their appearance and among them is the fabulous Heuchera, commonly known to your great grandmother as ‘Coral Bells’. Exceedingly popular a century ago, they lost favor for a few years until their 1991 win as the Perennial Plant Association’s ‘Plant of the Year’; since then they have made a rollicking come-back. Reintroducing themselves in the latest finery, the spectrum of their foliage colors is indeed astonishing! Native to all of North America, Coral Bells were first discovered in woodlands and trails before making their way to the garden. April through October the faithful habit of this hardy perennial sends forth delicate stalks which rise above the foliage to produce bright bell shaped flowers. In shades of coral, red, white or pink, these sweet flowers are half an inch in length with five petals. The most attractive feature however is the Coral Bell’s spectacular foliage that provides a striking focal point in any garden setting. A wide array of leaf forms, either ruffled or wavy, are available in stunning colors which include green, pink, red, purple, bronze and silver. Never invasive, this lady can be trusted to know her place in the garden, staying in tidy clumps rather than wandering. ‘Amber Waves’ is among the most exquisite emerging with ruffled amber foliage that changes to burnt orange as the leaves age. With the addition of the rose-colored flower, she is indeed a show stopper. Another is ’Black Beauty’ with deep purple-burgundy leaves of outstanding ruffling that stand slightly upright to catch the sun from all directions. ’Bronze Beauty’ is extremely heat tolerant and provides shades of creamy white flowers over the extremely large peach, orange and bronze leaves below. And although the list seems endless, 'Encore' must be mentioned as she starts out in the spring with deep rose purple-colored leaves that have a light silvering on top, darker veins, with a vibrant burgundy on the underside. With maturity. the leaves turn lighter rose and produce a heavy silver overlay over deep smoky-purple veins. Hummingbirds adore them and deer find them distasteful, which is part of the reason for their popularity. The Coral Bell adapts and thrives in almost any garden but prefers light shade and moist feet to sun and dust. Prized for longevity, they will last for decades with little care, a trait which is always appreciated by the gardener. *Photo credit: My dear friend and horticultural specialist Mr. Jeremy Webber at Sunny Border Nurseries in Connecticut... Heuchera are one of his favorites. Also credited is Mr. Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries. One of his favorite creations, this beauty is 'Gypsy Dancer'.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Garden Debris

In the Garden By Catherine Dougherty The Damage in the Garden Now that the days are spring-like, one has the opportunity to truly assess the long-term damage to trees and shrubs from the subzero temperatures and ice, which was unlike we had ever seen before... it dealt fatal blows to many of our old friends. One of the earliest joys in the garden are the sweet scent of the currant bushes. The tiny yellow flowers with their scarlet center waft their scent through the air to let the gardener know spring is arriving. Unfortunately, the hideous cold killed them leaving dry mustard colored parchment in their steed. The leaves were not affected so we shall look for blooms next year. Both the Boxwood and Privet were hit badly as well. Usually some leaves turn brown, but many remain intact, unfazed by winter. This year every leaf died and we must cross our fingers and hope (which springs eternal) they will leaf out from the main stalks. Many of our venerable Caddo Maples, Burr Oaks, Elm and Locust were broken badly by the October ice storm and the ensuing sixty MPH winds with snow and ice in late February sent many crashing.... cleaning the garden takes on new meaning this year and promises to be quite a chore. However there I always a consolation prize in the garden and the early perennial Jonquils have been a sweet surprise blooming spectacularly this year... plus it is almost time to plant pots!