Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fabulous Foamy Bells

I'm only in for a half day today so thought I'd put some "foliage eye candy" on the blog today.  One of my favorite perennials for part shade are the wide range of foamy bells (xHeucherella) which continue to offer extreme foliage color from spring well in to late fall.  This cross between coral bells (Heuchera) and foam flowers (Tiarella) was first made in France in 1912 and continues to be a focus of modern breeding efforts to create colorful and durable selections for the garden.  Foamy bells thrive in moist, well-drained soil but do have some drought tolerance once established.  The best specimens I've observed and grown thrive in part sun that includes afternoon shade.  Keep them happy and they will be long-lived and wont disappoint!  I find them to be less finicky than coral bells (Heuchera).  The best thing about these perennials is that they feature a wonderful foliage color range from their coral bell parents and interesting leaf markings and shapes from their foam flower parents.  The spring flowers are exceptional on some selections and unexceptional for others.  I've never selected a variety for flowering although it can be a nice asset for couple weeks in spring.  My favorite feature for selection and use is definitely the foliage as seen in one example above featuring xHeucherella 'Stoplight'.  The flowers of this selection are directly below.  Note further below that many varieties, while having the most intense foliage coloration in spring, do go through a transition of color and hold interest usually until Thanksgiving or so.  I'm most impressed with 'Golden Zebra', 'Sweet Tea' and 'Brass Lantern'.  The leaves will withstand many frosts and continue to offer color until covered by snow.  The healthiest selections display the best seasonal coloration as you would expect.  Droughty, full sun situations should be avoided!  There are many exciting varieties coming out including trailing foamy bells for groundcover or container use.  'Redstone Falls' and 'Yellowstone Falls' are two such varieties seen further below.  I'm excited about the current breeding efforts and will continue to accumulate these fabulous foamy bells for use throughout the partly shaded areas at RBG.  A great article regarding both coral bells and foamy bells can be seen on the Plant Delights Nursery website or linked directly below...

When I left work yesterday, it was almost 50 degrees F and misty.  This morning, there was a windchill of 8 degrees F and quite a breeze.  Larry headed out to test the entire Holiday Lights Show (HLS) again and finished hooking up the last of the lights that L.P. Tree Service put up yesterday.  We'll see if we have any more issues.  There was a nice article on the HLS in the Janesville Gazette today which will help encourage some healthy crowds.  I keep hearing that December will be bitter cold but time will tell. I'd rather have cold than rain for the HLS but as we all know, it's "out of hour hands" so to say.  Being here for only a half day means I can't account for any afternoon "action" at the Horticulture Center.  However, this morning, we had Vern, Dave T., Jim and Ron Y. all working on carpentry projects and organizing in the Horticulture Center.  A load of lumber arrived for their next project which is related to the currently top secret garden art project for 2014.  Dr. Gredler was in for more painting duties (containers), Maury ran some errands for us and Dick H. stopped by as well.  Maury and Dick also helped remove a greenhouse covering for storage.  Gary S. stopped by as well.  Pat M. did some odds and ends and went out in the frigid weather to start our winter pruning cycle with our suckering crabapples (Malus).

xHeucherella 'Brass Lantern' - spring coloration
xHeucherella 'Brass Lantern' - fall coloration
xHeucherella 'Sweet Tea' - spring coloration
xHeucherella 'Sweet Tea' - November coloration!
xHeucherella 'Redstone Falls' - spring coloration
xHeucherella 'Redstone Falls' - late summer coloration
xHeucherella 'Redstone Falls' - October coloration
xHeucherella 'Redstone Falls' - November coloration!
xHeucherella 'Yellowstone Falls' - November coloration!
xHeucherella 'Golden Zebra' - spring coloration
xHeucherella 'Golden Zebra' - October coloration
xHeucherella 'Golden Zebra' at Halloween
xHeucherella 'Solar Power' - summer coloration
grouping of xHeucherella 'Kimono' - spring (Olbrich Botanical Garden)
xHeucherella 'Kimono' - spring
xHeucherella 'Alabama Sunrise' - spring coloration
xHeucherella 'Sunspot' - spring coloration
close-up of xHeucherella 'Sunspot'
xHeucherella 'Party Time' - solid spring bloomer
xHeucherella 'Thunderbird' - late November!

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