Friday, March 28, 2014

Foamflowers For Flowers & Foliage

It was another overcast day to start with although I didn't mind the rain yesterday.  Pre-April showers will hopefully bring both April and May flowers!  Pat came in to work on more Holiday Lights Show (HLS) duties and Dr. Gredler came in for more painting.  I think he's "chomping at the bit" to get on a lawn mower! I spent the morning working on event preparations, particularly for our Spring Plant Sale on Mother's Day Weekend. The sale, held in conjunction with our Spring Tree Sale, is on May 10th and 11th from 9 am until 4 pm at the Horticulture Center.  However, there is a pre-sale on Friday, May 9th for RBG Friends Members to shop the plant sale early with a 10% discount.  This discount extends throughout the duration of the sale.  It's important to note that the Spring Tree Sale is open to the public on Friday (9am - 4pm) while the Member's Only plant sale is occurring.  We're featuring a wide range of vegetables, herbs, shrubs, small trees and bagged mushroom compost.  Our vegetable and herb lists are on the RBG website as are descriptions of the six tree sale selections.  For any RBG volunteers reading this blog, we still need volunteer assistance during that weekend so please contact me.
My blog focus today is on foamflowers (Tiarella sp.) which are native to the woodlands of North America and portions of Asia.  Some varieties are hybrids although many are popular selections of Tiarella cordifolia.  The slightly fragrant, early blooms (May) are very showy and brighten up a partly shaded location.  Above (and the two photos below) features the popular variety 'Spring Symphony' which has a strong flowering period and does well as a massing groundcover.  Many selections of foamflower also have maroon leaf markings, highlights or perhaps a more cut-leaf contribution in the garden.  Our best specimens are in richer woodland soils with ample organic matter and supplemental watering as needed.  Partial sun/shade is ideal.  Under 15" in total height, they should be positioned for viewing and also feature semi-evergreen foliage that will usually get a decent fall color in November (see 'Brandywine' below).  Some species are clumping perennials although other selections can be more vigorous in terms of their growth rate.  Related to coral bells (Heuchera), the foamflowers have been crossed with coral bells to create "foamy bells" (xHeucherella) which are an exciting perennial for partly shaded woodland conditions as well.

'Spring Symphony'
'Spring Symphony'

late fall color of 'Brandywine'
'Lace Carpet'
blooms of 'Lace Carpet'
'Dark Star'
'Iron Butterfly'
'Sugar & Spice'
'Mystic Mist'
spring specimen in bloom at the Chicago Botanical Garden (CBG)

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