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Heuchera 'Obsidian'I bought another Heuchera the other day – this time “Obsidian”, a fantastic matt-black brooder of a plant. I love it already. I’m a bit of a collector of Heuchera – my front garden relies on them, along with Tiarella (I’m afraid the mongrel Heucherella is banished, for snobbery’s sake if nothing else). The purple mottled foliage makes a great contrast with the ferns which tower above them – both are more-or-less evergreen, too, so my purple-and-green scheme continues all year.

It started out as a white garden, but then I thought – well, that’s just one big cliche, so I added a twist and underplanted the white flowery things with a purple-and-green ground layer. It works brilliantly, all the more so since the purple and green recedes to the background while the white flowers do their stuff, and then takes over once the best of the herbaceous is over.

Conditions are dappled shade and dry sandy soil – so you wouldn’t have thought it would do well. I add a thick mulch every spring and feed it, too, and that seems to keep the plants more or less nourished despite their otherwise starvation surroundings.

Other Heucheras I’ve got the hots for:

  • H. “Palace Purple”: the one everyone has, but there really isn’t any beating it
  • H. “Chocolate Ruffles”: leaves good enough to eat
  • H. “Pewter Moon”: marbled leaves that look painted

I also have a bright yellow-leaved strain which I picked up at Hampton Court Flower Show a few years ago – I paid a bit more than I intended for it, as it was a new variety, but I’ve been delighted with it as it’s just flourished. Sadly I don’t think the variety has continued – it’s similar to H. “Lime Rickey” but much more yellow – and now I’ve lost the plant label. I don’t suppose I’ll ever identify it again now, but maybe there’s a National Collection Holder out there somewhere who knows what it is.

I’m not a fan of the very fashionable H. “Amber Waves” – it’s a slightly sickly colour for my taste, and I’m told it doesn’t do well in wet winters. They say H. “Caramel” does better, and is a similar colour, but since I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth looking at the diarrhoea-yellow shades of “Amber Waves” I doubt I’ll be converted. Leave me my purples and my dark-brown lovelies, and I’ll be content.

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