Northern Shade Gardening

Heucherella with Pretty Pink Flowers

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 Category: Perennials
Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' pink with athyrium ghost fern

Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ pink with athyrium ghost fern

The pretty pink flowers and attractive leaves of Heucherella (foamy bells) have been looking fantastic the garden for the last few months. These hybrids are crosses between two of my favourites, Heuchera (coral bells) and Tiarella (foamflower). They make very decorative plants for a part shade to medium shade garden site. The two varieties I’ve grown have attractive marking on their leaves, down the centre of each lobe. Heucherella also have showy blooms, unlike many of the Heuchera that were bred for fantastic leaf colour and sometimes lack on the flower side.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' pink flower closeup

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ pink flower closeup

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ has spikes of pretty pink flowers. They start as cones with tight rose pink buds, and open to the frothy light and medium pink flowers.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' leaf detail

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ leaf detail

The green leaves are well marked with dark patches along their centres. It is a very attractive effect, and they are a pleasing change from the more solid green leaves of the garden. Their broad shape with deep lobes is more substantial than many other leaves, so they look great as a contrast next to the feathery texture of ferns and Astilbe. If a garden is a mass of small leaves, they all tend to blend together, and it looks a little bland when not in bloom. Some colourfully decorated leaves with different shapes , like Heucherella, make for a much livelier garden.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' foamy bells foliage colours

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ foamy bells foliage colours

In this photo, you can see how the leaf colour changes as they mature over the season. Some leaves have a silvery cast to them, reminding me of Heuchera ‘Green Spice’ or ‘Mint Frost’, while the small newer leaves are a lighter green with purplish maroon centres.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' foamy bells plant

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ foamy bells plant

This group of ‘Tapestry’ have a tall Actaea (bugbane) planted behind them. The leaves look especially glossy as the picture was taken in the rain. We’ve had so much rain this summer that I’ve barely watered my garden, except for new plantings.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' with pink flowers and Campanula cochlearifolia behind

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ with pink flowers and Campanula cochlearifolia behind

The ‘Tapestry’ foamflowers are in a slightly raised garden bed next to my patio. Beyond the Heucherella are some Campanula cochlearifolia (fairy thimble bellflower), whose blue flowers go great with the pink spikes of the Heucherella. In between the two is an Osmunda regalis (royal fern).

Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' flowers

Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ flowers

My other Heucherella is ‘Dayglow Pink’, which have bright pink flowers that are actually more natural looking than their name suggests. These have been very long blooming for me, and keep sending up new spikes. The flowering started in May, and the foamy bells are still going strong at the end of July.

Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' group of foamy bells plants

Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ group of foamy bells plants

This photo was from a little earlier in the season, so you can see the smaller flower spikes that are just developing.The Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ have an Athyrium ‘Ghost’ fern to one side, and a group of Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ (coral bells) is visible in the front right corner. The ‘Raspberry Ice’ have darker pink flower spikes that blend well with these. It’s a Heuchera that has an excellent combination of flowers and leaves.

Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' leaves

Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ pink leaves

The leaves of ‘Dayglow Pink’ are a lighter green, with narrower dark brown markings along the centres of the individual lobes. The markings are not as visible as ‘Tapestry’, but still add a little extra interest.

Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' with convallaria

Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ with convallaria

Here is a shot of ‘Dayglow Pink’ from earlier in the season when the Convallaria (lily of the valley) were flowering. I really enjoyed the dainty white bells with the fuzzy Heucherella flower spikes. You can see more photos of  Dayglow Pink, and how it combines with Tiarella (foamflower) plants.

My Heucherella are in medium shade sites, where many perennials can be sparse with their blooms. However, these produce a good amount of flowers for their shady locations, making a great display. Over the last couple of years I’ve been adding a lot more Tiarella and Heucherella varieties, since they perform so well in the shade and look good all season.

The foamy bells plants are about 20 cm (8in) tall by 35 cm (14 in) wide, and the flowers are 40 cm (16 in) tall, so they look good at the front of a border, where you can see them. The foliage makes an excellent edging as it is neat and has an interesting shape, while the flowers show especially well with greenery behind them, like the silver coloured fern or the Actaea leaves.

I’ve read that some gardeners have not found Heucherella to be as robust in their gardens, but I’ve been very pleased with the hardiness of these two, since all of my plants survived winter temperatures down to – 40 C (- 40 F) with no problems. It’s all very well to have pretty flowers and nice leaves, but a perennial has to be able to survive winter without a down parka. In their second season in my garden, both of these hybrids are showing a lot of vigour. The last picture is a closeup of a ‘Tapestry’ flower.

Heucherella 'Tapestry' with pink flower spikes

Heucherella ‘Tapestry’ with pink flower spikes

 

Campanula Poscharskyana Groundcover with Blue Flowers

Monday, July 18, 2011 Category: Perennials

Campanula poscharskyana (Serbian bellflower) are a great groundcover for part shade or medium shade, even growing under taller plants to make a layered effect. This groundcover produce pretty blue flowers over a long period of time, usually right past the first frosts. I added two new varieties of  Serbian bellflower, ‘Werner Arends’ and ‘Blue Gown’, to my garden last year, to compare with the ‘Blue Waterfall’ variety I’ve grown for a while. The ‘Blue Waterfall’ that was so successful in the past completely died out over last winter, while the two added early last year, ‘Werner Arends’ and ‘Blue Gown’, are healthy and blooming well.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue starry flower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue starry flower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue flowers

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' 'Camgood' blue flowers

The four photos above shows Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Waterfall’ which is the picturesque marketing name of ‘Camgood’. Last year it had masses of these gorgeous star-shaped blooms, with 5 narrow petals each, creating a beautiful effect.

Unfortunately, all of the photos of ‘Blue Waterfall’  are from last season, since they went AWOL, despite surviving the previous two zone 3 winters. I’m surprised, as I don’t think that last winter was necessarily colder. Also, ‘Blue Waterfall’ would easily flower right past the first light frosts in the fall, and was often one of the last flowers blooming in my garden. One year it bloomed right up to December, giving every appearance of extra hardiness. Since the other two varieties survived, and these appeared very healthy last fall, I don’t think it was a disease or infestation that destroyed them.

I could try replanting ‘Blue Waterfall’ (‘Camgood’), but I’ve decided to use one of the other varieties instead. Since I haven’t seen them being offered for sale this summer around town, I’ll divide the Blue Gown’ and ‘Werner Arends’ to start underplanting garden areas with a groundcover of blue flowers.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' plant

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' plant

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' flower closeup

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' lots of blue flowers

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' lots of blue flowers

These three pictures above are of Campanula poscharskyana ‘Blue Gown’. It has the same 5 petalled blue flowers in a star shape, but there is a white bee in the centre, which makes the flower pop and stand out a little more. There are many flowers all over the plant, making a pretty sheet of blue. This perennial was right next to a ‘Blue Waterfall’, so it didn’t get a cushier siting, but it has survived the winter and is very healthy.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' serbian bellflower in bloom

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' serbian bellflower in bloom

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' blue flowers

Campanula poscharskyana 'Werner Arends' blue flowers

The three shots above are Campanula poscharskyana ‘Werner Arends’. The flowers of ‘Werner Arends’  have a slightly less noticeable white centre than ‘Blue Gown’. Just one plant has close to a hundred of these blue star flowers, radiating out on horizontal flower stems. This is a good choice for a blue flowering groundcover to cascade over an edge or wall. The multitude of blooms shows up well as  a blanket of blue from across the garden.

The flower stems of all of these Serbian bellflowers are mostly horizontal, spreading out across the ground. With such low profiles, they fit neatly underneath taller plants, to make a pretty flowering carpet. They are perfect for underplanting shrubs that have a little space at their base, like Hydrangea. The Campanula poscharskyana form a pretty groundcover that keeps down the weeds, while providing beautiful colour. They also work well under taller perennials, colouring up the bare soil underneath my taller Actaea (bugbane). Here are more photos of how this Campanula can be planted under perennials. With the showy blue flowers, Serbian bellflowers make a terrific edging at the front of a garden bed. The trailing flower stems of this bellflower can cascade over a planter edge as well. However, in zone 3 they would have to be sited in the ground to overwinter.

When the flowering stems of Campanula poscharskyana start to fade, I just cut them off to start the next round of blooms. There are so many little flowers on every stem, that it is impractical to deadhead them individually, although I’ve done that in the past. I’ve experimented with leaving the old stems on, and they do seem to rebloom still, but removal makes for tidier looking plants.

The bees love these plants, as they do most Campanula. There are almost always  pollinators buzzing around the blooms, flitting in and out of the stars.

I liked all three versions of Campanula poscharskyana that I’ve grown, with the blue flowers mostly having subtle variations. However, I would have to take back my recommendation for ‘Blue Waterfall’ in zone 3, after the total die off this winter. Two out of the three, ‘Blue Gown’ and ‘Werner Arends’,  have proven to be hardy for me in Edmonton. I’ve read that in some climates they can grow too well, but I’ve never had problems with them doing that here. In a warmer climate, you might not want to plant them near more delicate perennials.

The picture below is of ‘Blue Gown’, showing the incredible number of little blue blooms that cover the plants.

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' Serbian bellflower

Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Gown' Serbian bellflower

A Tangle of July Flower Colours

Friday, July 8, 2011 Category: Perennials
garden bed with iris Campanula Paeonia daisy

garden bed with iris Campanula Paeonia daisy

This garden bed is an informal tangle of July flowers in bloom. It’s bright and cheery, and the vibrant colour mix suits a sunny July. There is a pink Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, some tall yellow, purple and blue bearded iris, purple blue Campanula glomerata, (clustered bellflower) and some volunteer daisies that I just haven’t got around to pulling out yet. The potpourri of summer colours are scented by the wonderful peony perfume. The area has a part sun siting, getting a little more light than most of my other beds.

iris bellflower peony flowers

iris bellflower peony flowers

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ has large, double pink flowers with an abundance of extra petals. I adore the over the top combination of wonderful scent and fluffy flower heads. Normally I’m not fond of yellow and pink flowers together, but the addition of purple seems help them get along. The deep purplish blue colour coordinates beautifully with either the light pink of the butter yellow, so putting it between the two helps them harmonize.

daisy iris Campanula

daisy iris Campanula

There are lots of these yellow bearded iris of unknown identity in my garden. The iris start blooming in another garden section in May, and by July this garden bed is the last to bloom with iris. These iris have butter yellow standards (upper petals) and maroon coloured falls (lower petals) with beautifully patterned white markings. The two-toned iris fits the multicoloured theme for this garden section, and I especially like it with the saturated purple blue of the bellflower. The yellow and maroon iris is very rugged, so it has done well in every light exposure that I’ve planted it in.

yellow iris around blue iris

yellow iris around blue iris

In the centre is a pretty, solid blue bearded iris. It comes up every year, but does not spread as well as the stalwart yellow iris. I should probably make a little more room around the blue iris to give it a better chance. It actually does have more space and flowers than the picture above, which makes it look totally hemmed in.

blue iris volunteer in garden

blue iris volunteer in garden

This bitone iris with dark blue falls and light blue standards is a volunteer in my garden, that appeared a couple of years ago. It is my favourite iris that I grow. I like the delicate tracings of white on the falls, and the bright yellow beard. The velvet texture of the dark blue falls is very appealing, and set off by the lighter edging. It has been expanding and producing many more flowers now, so I think it will be ready for dividing this fall.

mixed iris

mixed iris

It is probably a cross between my yellow iris and the solid blue one that you see above, since it has the colour of the solid blue, the darker falls like the two-toned yellow, and the white tracings of the maroon falls. It seems to have inherited the hardiness and willingness to expand of the yellow parent.

Campanula glomerata and iris with yellow and maroon petals

Campanula glomerata and iris with yellow and maroon petals

The Campanula glomerata (clustered bellflower) have large, purple flower heads that make a great show in bloom. The  colour goes perfectly with the powder pink peony, and both of them pack the maximum number of petals into a flower. It also pairs well with  the yellow iris.

yellow iris and purple Campanula glomerata

yellow iris and purple Campanula glomerata

Unfortunately, I’m only fond of the Campanula glomerata plants for about three weeks in the summer, when they are flowering well. After that their foliage quickly deteriorates. Clustered bellflower also spread a little too much to be considered a polite garden resident, so it’s best to cut them back quickly after they have bloomed, and be ruthless about pulling them out as soon as they step out of line. I’ve removed them from my other garden beds, but keep them here since they look so good with their neighbours.

iris Campanula glomerata and peony in garden-bed

iris Campanula glomerata and peony in garden-bed

These perennials do well mingling together to create a kaleidoscope of pink, yellow and purple colour. When these are done flowering, some carnations, pinks and other bellflowers take over the flower show in front, with the annual light blue lobelia as an edging. Then in late summer and fall, the tall phlox join in.

yellow bearded iris with purple Campanula glomerata clustered bellflower

yellow bearded iris with purple Campanula glomerata clustered bellflower

You can see that this garden section is a little crowded, but the iris and Campanula handle it quite well.

yellow iris and purple bellflower

yellow iris and purple bellflower

Here the yellow iris is putting a pushy Campanula in its place with one petal. You have to watch Campanula glomerata as it will squeeze its way into other beds, so I would only plant it with fairly strong plants that know how to push back.

talll bearded iris Campanula glomerata bellflower Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

talll bearded iris Campanula glomerata bellflower Paeonia lactiflora 'Sarah Bernhardt'

If you’re reading this on a smaller monitor, you might have to click the above photo to see the whole shot. There is also a hardy blue geranium that self seeded into the garden here, fitting right in with the colour scheme. With the exuberant colour of early summer, it is fun to tour the garden each day to check out which new flowers are opening, and how they look with their neighbours. Here are some more iris photos from last year.