Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday~Cliff Dwellers

Some plants love hanging out!

Limestone cliffs on the Ashland City Greenway
Heuchera villosa thrives on cliffs where it finds the well-drained and neutral soil it needs. It's native to moist shaded ledges and rich rocky wooded slopes in the mountains from New York to Georgia and west in scattered locations to Missouri and Arkansas. (source)


Excellent drainage!


I love that this strictly North American native is an international sensation!  Gardeners all over the blogasphere sing their praises. I know for certain that one UK gardener, VP/VegPlotting adores them.  Some, would even say, it's her signature plant.  Tennessee blogger extraordinaire, Frances/Fairegarden even has a  seedling cross that grew in her trough planter... She named it~'H Faire Piecrust’. It's a cutie pie!

Gorgeous foliage on  native  H americana 'Frosted Violet'


The delight of heucheras, are the  many colorful cultivars that have been hybridized and  the varied habitats they will grow in.  Most of us can grow heucheras. (Heuchera spp. and cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8) If we give them the right cultural conditions.   Even the Southwestern states  have their own  heuchera,  H sanguinea.    It's also a cliff dwelling heuchera and like others of its kind, prefers moist, well drained soil,  It's  lovely with  classic  reddish colored flowers and scalloped green mottled  foliage and is widely cultivated throughout the cooler parts of North America.  In fact, the Bressingham Hybrids, are hybrids of H sanguinea. They  dominated the plant world until the 1990s,  when an explosion in hybridizing opened the way to more colorful and variegated foliage. It's that foliage that's so attractive to most gardeners. But,  for Clay and Limestone~the  flowers have to  attract pollinators.


In my part of the gardening world,  H villosa is my go to heuchera.
The Bressingham Hybrid Coral Bells were a supreme failure in this garden.  I thought them lovely, but, they hated the hot and humid summers.   Lovers of cooler weather and moist, well drained soil; they looked spectacular for one season and then slowly disappeared.  I totally gave up on them,  until a few years ago, when Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride' came to live in the garden.

H villosa's  big and bold maple leaf shaped foliage
Hybridizers struck gold with this  Southeastern native species also known as ~ Hairy Alumroot. 

You can see the hairs that make this Hairy Alumroot
 They crossed H villosa with its large, maple shaped leaves, a preference for dappled shade and tolerance for  hot, humid summers with other coral bells and  brought the gardening world more cultivars then one can imagine.  Cultivars like my other favorites~H villosa 'Brownie and H villosa ' Mocha'.



But,  my go to heuchera is Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'.   She may be a cultivar, but, she exemplifies the best characteristics of Heuchera villosa. 
Isn't she a beauty!  I love Autumn Bride's delightful  late summer white  flowers.  They're borne on erect, wiry stems  sitting  about 2 foot above the foliage, they dance in the breeze and  attract my favorite pollinators~the Bumbles, honeybees and Syrphid Flies.   Like other heucheras,  she's semi-evergreen,  or in this case,  a pale green that glows in the sunshine.


Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride'  makes a big statement in my hot and humid garden.  She  has those  big maple shaped  leaves,  lovely late blooming flowers that attract pollinators, tolerates heavier soils and crowding from other perennials. But, like all heucheras,  they  DO NOT  tolerate poor drainage.  So plant on a slope, plant in well draining soil, plant in containers or amend your soil to keep it free draining!

Even though, I have amended and mulched...I still lost several Autumn Bride plants.   It was a rough year; flooding rains,  followed by intense drought.  This spring~ I'll dig  them up;  add a complete landscape mix of crushed shale, humis and composted manures to the existing soil; divide and replant; and, they'll be ready for what ever Mother Nature throws at us this year.

Now,  tell me, what's your favorite heuchera? I know you have one!

xxoogail

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not~It's winter! Please add your url to Mr Linky and leave a comment. 


This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011.This work protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

35 comments:

  1. Gail, heucheras are one of my favorites both for the foliage and the long lasting dainty flowers that attract pollinators especially hummers...I actually don't have one favorite...but I am partial to any that bloom pink...happy to be linking in today for the first time...

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  2. Dear Gail, what a fabulous advertisement for the Heucheras you have presented here, and thanks for the linkage! I envy that Autumn Bride with her sweet and plentiful flowers, she needs to join the fun in the seed swapping here. Faire Piecrust was recently lifted from the trough, she looked a little rough around the edges, and was found to be growing right on top of a large rock in no soil, only moss! Just goes to show the conditions they want, mostly rocks. :-)
    Frances

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  3. My garden designer incorporated some Heucheras in my garden design and I love them, too. I have 'Autumn Bride', of course, but some others with colorful leaves, the names of which escape me this morning. But you are right on... they need good drainage!

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  4. What a great picture of the Heucheras on the cliff. I had no idea they grew like that! I have several Heuchera cultivars, I also love their flowers as well as the foliage. Seeing that picture of them growing in the cliffs gives me some new ideas of how to use them in my landscape. I bet they'd be lovely tucked into the stacked bluestone retaining wall of my pond. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  5. I didn't realize there was a native heuchera. I always learn something on WW. I will have to find some of these for my dry shade garden. I will give them a try. Happy WW.

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  6. Lisa, They are all natives~Even though English and French hybridizers have embraced them and created some gorgeous beauties. Yes...Do try Autumn Bride, you will love her.

    Shannon, Your bluestone wall sounds perfect.

    Frances, Yes, they do like great drainage. Do you remember seeing them on the cliffs when we went to the waterfall?

    Carol, Moist, well draining soil is my nemesis!

    Donna, Welcome to WW...I am glad you joined the celebration.

    Gail

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  7. That h. villosa is fabulous and your capture of 'Autumn Bride' with the bee gorging itself is really nice. Hairy Alumroot is quite the nickname :)

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  8. Thank you for all this wonderful information, Gail! I'm a big fan of heucheras, but I am usually enticed by the hybrids, especially those with yummy-sounding names like 'Tiramisu' or 'Creme Brulee.' I wasn't even familiar with 'Autumn Bride' until I saw a mass planting of them last fall at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where they certainly made a statement. I can see why you love them so.


    Once again, Wildflower Wednesday has caught me with my plants down--sorry, I couldn't resist that awful pun:) Looks like I'd better start planning now for March's celebration.

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  9. I'll bring Natal's Bauhinia. Surprisingly willing to grow here among wheat fields rather than its coastal subtropical home.

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  10. Gail, what great info on the different Heucheras, I will have to pay more attention to the species in addition to the cultivar. In my new garden I have a Heucherella 'Sweet Tea' which has survived the winter, so now I am looking forward to its new growth.

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  11. Wildflower Wednesday already! I had completely forgotten. Time is obviously moving faster than I think. Had no idea heuchera's were native to North America. I love the dark wine coloured ones like Black Beauty or Purple Petticoats. They provide such a nice contrast to any shade of green.

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  12. Being in the hot south I love the H. villosas and their hybrids. I don't have 'Autumn Bride.' I hope to buy it one day. Never seen it here. Maybe an order is in order.~~Dee

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  13. Ohhhhh that was so good to see them in their natural habitat.

    Gail I am a heucheraholic here along with VP. I simply can't have enough of them in the garden and I've my eye on " Heuchera Paris" just now as it's supposed to be a great rebloomer.

    I'm in the middle of a huge design project for the web just now but I would love to join in with you this month for wildflower wednesday..... not sure though if I have enough material to hand but I'm gonna give it a go :)

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  14. Hi Gail, I love heucheras as well and have enjoyed several varieties, planting a couple of new ones just last summer. If I could remember their names off hand, I'd share them but sadly, I cannot! I am too lazy to trudge out into the garden to check them out, so I will have to write about them in a future post;-) I do 'lose' plants every year--all kinds of plants--to one problem or another, although the heucheras seemed to fair well through the fall. Time will tell if they survived the winter and emerge again this spring/summer!
    Today I wrote a little about 'Green and Gold'. I have only 2 photos of it since it was newly planted last spring. I'm hoping to see it pop up again this year and I plan to take more photos.

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  15. I agree with you about the important of Heuchera flowers. I won't buy a Heuchera unless it has large, showy blooms. Why settle for just a great leaf?
    I really don't know if I can choose just one favorite. I like 'Citronelle' for its large chartreuse foliage and clean white flowers, but I also like 'Raspberry Ice', with its dark foliage and large, bright pink blooms. If it survives the winter, 'Berry Smoothie' might become my favorite. It's a fantastic color.

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  16. *Waves* this is my first Wildflower Wednesday - hope I cut the mustard!

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  17. We have a native Heuchera here on the property growing naturally on one of our steep shaded slopes. I really just need to sit down and ID it. It doesn't bloom as profusely as some of yours, but it's still a lovely plant. Now I'm curious as to which one it is!

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  18. Clare, How exciting to get the magnifying glass and to figure out which one it is! I know that no matter how profusely it flowers the pollinators appreciate it. gail

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  19. What a lovely plant. I've tried these but sadly they don't like my garden.

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  20. After seeing Heuchera for the first time in the Uk in '95, I had to try it. It is not often seen in South Africa, and I think, after reading your wonderful blog, that our summers are simply too hot, which is why mine disappeared almost as soon as I planted them... But you've inspired me with your cultivation advice and examples of plants that can deal with humid heat to try again! Jack

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  21. I love heuchera! It is such an easy plant. The cliff shot is great Gail!

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  22. Hi ... i always thinking anything that's growing in wild is exotic n off course beautiful - like these heucheras ... love them on the cliff - they simply look gorgeous green !!

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  23. I really don't know if I can pick one favorite...I am big fan of heucheras. I've been growing H. richardsonii which is a Midwestern native species, but some of them have struggled as of late...I think they're too dry.

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  24. I didn't realize that Heucheras needed such good drainage. It's a good thing that I planted the one that I have in the dry desert on the east side of my house. I got it in a trade and looks like 'Autumn Bride'. I love the light green velvety leaves and even the flowers, so different from anything else, and they always have visitors.

    The Heuchera looks amazing clinging to the rocks!

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  25. Lovely wildflower post, Gail. I adore heuchera though do not have Autumn Bride but several varieties that all do well.

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  26. Hi Gail, Heucheras are lovely, and you show them well.
    I have tried many, they do not like my wet garden........some plants, you just know, will never be part of your scheme.

    Lovely post Gail....as always full of interesting facts.

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  27. We have several varieties of heucheras, and they thrive in our dry shade. One of the best things about them besides the beautiful foliage and airy blooms is that they're evergreen here. (We haven't seen them most of the winter thanks to all the snow!)

    'Autumn Bride' is one of my favorites, and has the showiest blooms of the many varieties we have.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  28. Hi Gail! I'm getting ready (mentally, too!) for Spring's arrival. With that thought in mind, I just HAD to join your Wildflower Wednesday meme today (I know - I'm late.) At any rate, the subject of the post is one I'm looking forward to viewing before too long! YOU will remember why. ha.

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  29. My two favorite heucheras are 'Citronelle' with bright yellow-green leaves and 'Caramel' with caramel leaves with pink undersides. Both are H. villosa cutivars and four season plants, standing up to our PA hot summers and damaging winters extremely well. Unlike 'Autumn Bride', which I also grow and like, they don't get woody and toss themselves out of the ground.

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  30. We have sold Villosa hybrids almost exclusively at work because they are the best for us, and this past January I had chance to meet Dan Hiems of Terra Nova Nurseries, who is responsible for so many of these cultivars. So knowing all this, I surprised to see them growing on a cliff face, and in such a marvelous setting. Thanks for placing a garden familiar into its wild home.

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  31. Dear Gail, Forgive my tardy comment. I am slipping for I thought I had! I love your first photo and all of the beautiful blooms of your Heucheras! Bishops weed rules my garden floor and would overtake these jewels. I did have some years back and loved their delicate blossoms and watching the bees and hummers delight in each tiny bell. Lovely Wildlfower Wednesday post!

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  32. Delighted I've found you! What a beautiful blog and oh how I adore Heucheras. Really looking forward to visiting your blog and reading your posts.

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  33. I like all heucheras. I don't think I have a favorite. I do like the blooms, and prefer the ones that don't have those ugly green balls they call flowers.

    Hopefully I'll have something to post for March's Wildflower Wednesday.

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  34. Well I'm a Scottish heucheralic Gail :) and I have so many favourites and there's always room for one more. Many of them struggle here in my soil though until I read your post I hadn't even thought of planting them on the slopes of my scree borders. Autumn bride looks so luscious with its large pale green leaves.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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