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H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Heuchera - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Heuchera - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Heuchera Described.

Heuchera - Alum-root; Nat. Ord. Saxifragaceæ.

This is a small genus of hardy perennials suitable for the decoration of the English garden from their bold and finely-shaped leaves, which are well marked with various pleasing tints, also because of their perpetual verdure and neat habit. It takes its name from J. H. de Heucher, a botanist. The species, as many of them as are known, are from American habitats; nearly all have been introduced within the last sixty years; the well-known H. Americana, however, is an old plant in English gardens, having been cultivated for 223 years. The order, as given above, together with the illustration figuring one of the species (see Fig. 51), will give some idea of the usefulness of the genus, especially when it is remembered that in the depth of winter the foliage is fresh, and even in a growing state.

The flowers are of little value for ornamental purposes; they are very small and numerous, and are arranged in panicles or racemes, on rather tall and mostly leafless stems, round, and somewhat wiry; calyx, petals, and stamens have a mixed appearance, the whole flower being of a dingy colour, often resembling some of the panicled bloom of meadow grass, when seen at a short distance; the calyces, however, are persistent, they crown the capsules; these and the naked stems, from their durable nature, mar the beauty of the foliage for several weeks, unless cut off. The plants are more ornamental without the flowers, as they impart a seedy appearance; at no time does the foliage show to more advantage than in January, when most herbaceous plants are dormant, and when their handsome tufts are alike beautiful, either bedewed with fogs, crystallised with hoar-frost, or glittering in the sunshine. As a genus, Heuchera is sometimes placed after Saxifraga and before that of Tiarella; the latter it much resembles, as well as the genera Mitella and Tellima. Anyone knowing these will at once admit the usefulness of the plants under notice.

Not only do they make good edgings or lines to borders, but the leaves in a cut state are of great service for table decoration, doing duty repeatedly around dishes, &c., either with or without flowers; after being so used, if placed in water, they may be kept a fortnight in good form. I am told that the leaves are sold in Covent Garden Market for similar purposes. I have seen them used in the autumn with the large white anemone, and in winter with the Christmas rose, one flower arranged and tied on the face of a single leaf. These placed round dishes, &c., have a pretty effect.

They grow freely in any kind of soil, excepting stiff clay, and are readily increased by division of the crowns. This may be done any time, but, perhaps, spring is the best.

The Heucheras bloom from May to August.


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