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’ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.