Heuchera and Tiarella Books

garden bookshelf with Heuchera books
garden bookshelf with Heuchera books

These two great book are packed with useful information about Heuchera (coral bells), Tiarella (foamflower) and their cross, Heucherella (foamy bells).  I’ve had the books for a couple of years on the shelf with some of my favourite gardening books, as they are very handy. Since two of the major North American Heuchera breeders and introducers have written them, there is a wealth of helpful tips, and you get some of the inside story on what goes into breeding them. The perennials have exceptional foliage for the shade, and many combine this with attractive flowers, too, so its helpful to have such detailed references for them.

Heucheras and Heucherellas:  Coral Bells and Foamy Bells

Heucheras and Heucherellas coral bells and foamy bells book
Heucheras and Heucherellas coral bells and foamy bells book

Heucheras and Heucherellas: Coral Bells and Foamy Bells is written by Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries and Graham Ware. The book was was published by Timber Press in 2005, ISBN 0-88192-702-3.

Heucheras and Heucherellas coral bells and foamy bells book back
Heucheras and Heucherellas coral bells and foamy bells book back

The picture of the back cover shows the incredible variety in foliage colours and shapes that Heuchera and Heucherella have. The book has extensive photographs by Dan Heims himself, showing details of the flowers and leaves. There is an overview of the species and their traits, with a much more detailed and alphabetized list of Heuchera cultivars and Heucherella, including a discussion of their features. The alphabetical listing makes a very convenient reference if you want to look up a name that is new to you or that you saw in a garden centre. There is a history of the various breeders of these perennials and the contributions they have made. For gardeners, there is a section on how to look after these plants, and advice about propagation by seed and cuttings. Since Heuchera cultivars come in a vast array of leaf colour combinations, the section on how to combine them with other bronze, silver or yellow plants is very useful. When I plant new garden combinations, it’s helpful to pick up colour echos from the surrounding perennials. There are other practical sections, too, such as tips for cut flower arranging of Heuchera and combinations to plant in pots.

Heucherella photos from Heucheras and Heucherellas by Dan Heims
Heucherella photos from Heucheras and Heucherellas by Dan Heims

Here’s a photo from Dan Heims’ book of my favourite Heucherella, but as you will see in the very last picture, the ‘Dayglow Pink’ in my garden don’t get quite as many flowers in their very shady location. There are 56 pages of coloured photos at the beginning of his book, so you can compare the more bold as well as subtle differences in flowers and leaves.

Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella A Gardener’s Guide

Heuchera Tiarella and Heucherella by Charles and Martha Oliver book cover
Heuchera Tiarella and Heucherella by Charles and Martha Oliver book cover

The second book, Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella: A gardener’s guide, is written by Charles and Martha Oliver of The Primrose Path. It was published by Batsford in 2006, ISBN-10: 0713490098. As the title indicates, this book also includes a discussion of the related Tiarella.

Heuchera Tiarella and Heucherella by Charles and Martha Oliver back cover
Heuchera Tiarella and Heucherella by Charles and Martha Oliver back cover

Since the Olivers are breeders of Heuchera and Tiarella, there is  extensive information about the different species, including the size, colour and shape of the flowers and leaves, as well as plant form. They discuss how these qualities are chosen and contribute to garden hybrids. The original habitat of native species gives clues about how hardy various hybrids will be, and how much shade or sun they will tolerate. It’s interesting to read about the history of the breeding lines they’ve used and resulting crosses. There is a discussion of the various cultivars, arranged by leaf colour and sports. This is handy if you are searching for a particular colour of Heuchera for your garden. They also give recommendations for particular garden sites such as woodland or rock garden, including sample planting maps. There are lots of coloured photos throughout the book of the plants growing in gardens, as well as sketches of leaf and flower forms.

tissue culture from Heuchera Tiarella and Heucherella by the Olivers
tissue culture from Heuchera Tiarella and Heucherella by the Olivers

I was particularly interested to read in the Olivers’ book about how tissue culture works, since so many plants are propagated this way now. For this process they use small pieces of axillary buds in sterile nutrient medium and they even give the basic recipe and steps, not that I’m ready to set up a micropropagation lab.

There are a few drawbacks to both volumes. Since they were published in 2005 and 2006, neither of these books discuss the very newest cultivars that have been bred in the last 7 years. It would be great if there was an updated version of each. Also, because some newer Heuchera are more tolerant of heat and sun, it’s important to know the cultivars’ requirements before choosing one for your gardening zone or a specific light exposure in your garden. Neither of them necessarily gives those details, other than for the species. Despite these minor points, they are still very informative books that make them an enjoyable read.

If you are growing these perennials, or are interested in finding out more about them, I’d recommend either book as a handy garden reference, an interesting plant history, and an inside look at their breeding. Both are very useful if you are interested in a comparison of the species, details of cultivars, tips for their care, and instructions for propagation.

Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' in my garden
Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ in my garden

In the photo above you can see the dark pink Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ growing in my garden next to some Tiarella. Here is a comparison I wrote of the foliage of some of my Heuchera. There are pictures and information about Heuchera ‘Cinnabar Silver’,   ‘Plum Pudding’, and  ‘Green Spice’ in these articles. You can read about  ‘Havana’ and  Peppermint Spice’, as well as ‘Raspberry Ice‘. There’s a comparison of my Tiarella, and there are pictures of my Heucherella in this post.

Do you grow any Heuchera, Tiarella or Heucherella, and if so, which are your favourites?

35 thoughts on “Heuchera and Tiarella Books”

  1. Happy New Year! I’ve seen one of the books at Amazon.com, but the second book was unknown to me. I would like to have both books. Garden books are a never too many in the bookshelf ;-)
    I have many heuchera in my garden, and ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Midnight Rose’ are some of my favorites. I think that they all are lovely.

    1. Marit, if you like Heuchera, they are definitely both worth reading and keeping on your shelf as a reference. I like collecting gardening books, too, especially ones about areas of gardening I’m particularly interested in, or certain genus.

      Those dark coloured Heuchera, like ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Midnight Rose’, can look very dramatic in the garden. They would look nice in front of a dark purple Acataea.

  2. Happy New Year!
    Sounds like really good books if you are really interested in Heuchera. My interest is not as big as yours (yet;)) but I have a few different plants, but I do not know the name of them. Take care/Monne

    1. Monne, I’m a big fan of Heuchera, because they do so well in the shade, have some spectacular foliage, and you can find one with a leaf colour to match just about any colour scheme in your garden bed. Also, their leaves are mostly evergreen, so they stop the garden from looking bare in early spring and late fall.

  3. We have a fair amount of shade here from huge trees a couple of hundred years old and I have underplanted with various heucheras, tiarellas etc. but have tended not to plant any with highly coloured foliage here as I prefer it to look more natural. More colourful ones are planted near to the house in yet more shady borders. Like your collection of books for shade loving plants, I too can’t resist buying such books, gardening books are my passion!

    1. Pauline, some of the Heuchera would definitely blend in with a woodland garden better than others. Many of the Tiarella are perfect under the trees. They’ve done very well for me under the conifers, too, which are trickier with the more constant shade conditions than deciduous trees.

      Anna, you have to love the way that Heuchera foliage looks so good no matter what the weather. Heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ is really lovely, and the colour is much more natural looking than its name suggests. Some of my other Heucherella have not been as hardy, but it has done very well.

      Planting the Dry Shade Garden by Graham Rice is an excellent book, especially if your sister has those gardening conditions. There are 35 pages of tips for dry shade gardening, and then he discusses the plants in detail, with two or three pages for each one. The only drawback for me is that half of the plants are for warmer zones than my zone 3, but they would all work in the UK.

  4. Happy New Year ~ may it treat you and your garden kindly. I grow all three but coming up with favourites is difficult. I’m trying to remember the name of the heuchera planted in a container that is looking good at the moment despite all the rain. I am failing miserably and it’s too dark and wet to nip out to check. Will do so tomorrow. I do like the look of ‘Dayglow Pink’ – will have to investigate forthwith. I noticed that you have Graham Rice’s book ‘Making The Most Of The Dry Shade Garden’ on your bookshelf. I have been thinking about buying it for my sister. Would you recommend it?

  5. just planted three seedlings in my garden .. under a vibirnum .. hoping they’ll do well .. i know one is a tiarella and the other two are unknown to me so far .. they’re already showing signs of growth so that’s pretty wonderfull .. fingers crossed ..
    happy new gardening year to you ..

    1. Jane, The Tiarella should do well under the Viburnum, as they handle shade and root competition well. Mine get fewer flowers the shadier the location, but still get a good number of blooms. They suit a woodland type planting with their fluffy flowers, and make a nice groundcover when not in bloom.

  6. The foliage picture is astounding – who knew there were so many colours. I like the way the flowers ride above the foliage on those rigid wiry stems – the flowers may look delicate but they float above the foliage.

    Best wishes for the New Year.

    1. Easygardener, there’s an amazing assortment of leaf color in Heuchera available now, from subtle green shades for a woodland, to bold colours for a planter or bright to match more tropical flowers. For a few of my Heuchera, like ‘Green Spice’ or ‘Mint Green’, I cut off the flower stems, as they are too long with nondescript miniscule flowers, but others are very showy and attractive.

    1. Helena, those with dark leaves can add some real contrast in the garden, next to Hosta or ferns. I grow ‘Plum Pudding’, which has dark purple leaves, and grow it with some Actaea that had purple leaves.

  7. So many of these plants don’t do well in my garden because it gets so hot and dry. I just love them though. I would like to spend a day or two in your library. You have some reads I would to peruse. This is the time of year for such activity. I look at those beautiful photos and I dream.

    1. Lisa, there are a number of cultivars now that are supposed to be sun and heat tolerant, although I can’t say anything about them from experience. It’s fun to curl up with a gardening book right now, while making lists and plans.

  8. These look like beautiful and useful books. I am not confident yet in mixing dramatic foliage colours as I think it can go horribly awry when not done well. However, I do love these plants and seem to bring more home every year so nice to know there are good references out there to guide me. :)

    1. Ms S, some of the combinations I like are ones where the plants pick up echos of colour from the ones next to them. I have some H. ‘Green Spice’, which is mostly green and silver with some purple lines, next to H. ‘Cinnabar Silver’, which is purple with a bit of silver, and they are both backed by some silvery green coloured Athyrium ‘Ghost’. The silvery cast ties them together, and the small bit of purple on some matches them with the mostly purple ones.

  9. I love these plants and have been growing them for quite a few years and each year I usually fall hard for one particular type .. the breeding has been making them tougher which is great for trouble spots, like Redstone Falls heucherella, I love Mystic Mist for it’s delicate mottled foliage,Pinot Gris heuchera, for hardiness and colour, Peach Flambe is still such an eye catcher for me as it changes through the season .. Frosted Violet for that amazing dark colour .. now hecherella Buttered Rum has me diverted ..
    I am an addict for these gorgeous plants so YES ! You have my full attention when ever anyone writes about them !
    Joy : )
    One of my first was Silver Scrolls and it hooked me from that point !

    1. Joy, you have many beautiful Heuchera and Heucherella mixed in with your Hosta and other perennials. You mentioned one of their traits that I appreciate, too, the way that the leaf colour changes through the season and in different temperatures. It’s fascinating to see the way that ones with silvery green leaves might have orange tones when the snow melts in spring or purple hues in late fall.

  10. A belated Happy New Year! Heucheras have quickly become one of my favorite plants. I seem to be drawn to those with dessert-sounding names:) It would be hard to pick a favorite, but I do love ‘Tiramisu.’ It’s been very hardy for me, and it changes color with the seasons, which makes it even more appealing. I couldn’t resist buying a couple of Tiarellas with my name last year, too:)

  11. Your own photo should be the cover of a book! I am growing more of these great plants, but I am having to experiment to see which ones tolerate my summer climate. Heuchera is native here, so there are many cultivars that do well, but it would be nice to have a guide specifying which ones can take the heat!

    1. Debsgarden, I’ve stress tested mostly on the other end of the scale, with cold, but it seems that there are many newer ones that have heat tolerant parentage and are supposed to take full sun.

  12. Love them all, but I think I’ve decided not to worry about heucherella. There are more and more heuchera being developed. Can you keep up?? I really like the tiarella, too. You have a sweet photo of your garden.

    I was so glad to see your post. I haven’t been around for quite awhile. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a little more posting soon. ;-)

    1. Shady Gardener, it’s nice to hear from you again. That’s why it would be great if the books were updated, to include more information on the newest ones. I have more Tiarella than Heuchera now, and love their charming flowers and decorative leaves.

  13. I love Heuchera, especially the bright lime green varieties. However I must enjoy them from a distance as they simply will not grow in my environment, I’ve tried many times but it’s just not meant to be.

    1. Sensiblegardening, it’s unfortunate that they don’t do well in your climate. I find the bright lime green Heuchera look good in the shadier spots under some evergreens, as the light colour makes them stand out more, instead of disappearing into the shadow.

  14. I just discovered your books on heucheras and tiarellas, plants I also like very much. Unfortunately we do not have such a great variety here. I think, in my garden are around a dozen of different plants now. But I am always looking for new cultivars, which I sometimes find in a good nursery in Germany, our neighbour country. Thank you for the proposed book titles.
    We still have winter and snow here and gardening actually means reading gardening books :-) !!
    Stay warm,

    1. Barbara, I’ve been fortunate to find quite a few cultivars locally. I really lucked out last fall, and found a number of Heuchera and Tiarella on sale at a terrific discount, so I extended the plantings in my front beds under some conifers.

      My gardening has been restricted to growing bulbs indoors and reading gardening books, as well. In another month and a half the first outdoor bulbs should be coming to life, and I’m anxious to see how the new early spring combinations look.

  15. Hi Northern, Sorry for the delay in getting back to you! Hope all is well up there, are you still under a blanket of snow? I can see the very tips of early bulb foliage peeking up through the mulch. Spring *might* be around the corner now…

    1. Rebecca, I was out of town and just read your comment today. We had tons of snow a week ago, but it is melting fast now. There are no visible shoots yet, but I now have hopes of bulbs in April. :) I planted a number of early bulbs last fall, so I am anxious to see the first ones.

  16. I know that this comment is years later, but I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog through the long winter days. I have gone through your pages multiple times, trying to identify some of my crocus, and figuring out better combinations. I hope in 2015 you will have more posts, but even if not, I enjoy going through the old ones. Thank you for all of your fabulous pictures.

    1. Lisa, thank you very much. The gardening year is getting started very early this year in Edmonton, as my Galanthus (snowdrops) have just come up, and are just starting to show the white outer petals. It has me thinking about the other early bulbs, such as crocus, that will be appearing soon, and I am eager to see more signs of spring.

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