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Ringing in Spring with Coral Bells by P. Allen Smith

 

‘Wildberry’ Coral Bell Shade Container Garden at Moss Mountain Farm

In the world of designing gardens plants that offer color and texture can move to the front of the line. This is especially true if they perform well in the shade.

There are a few categories of perennial plants where there’s been so much focus on improving the range of color and texture of foliage than among Heuchera or Coral Bells. I recall seeing them for the first time in full bloom. They were in fact coral in color and the foliage green. Years later, I saw a newly introduced ‘Palace Purple’ and said “Wow…now that’s an exceptional plant!” The blooms were small and cream-colored, but the foliage was a deep burgundy. It made quite an impression on me.

 

Spring Let The Bells Ring Collection

It’s really quite astonishing to me when I look back over the past several decades to see how far Coral Bells have come. Gardeners today can find a myriad of hues and leaf forms among the increasing number of cultivars. These exciting perennials are ideal accent plants for partial shade or shade gardens, and for that matter, containers. The term “Evergreen” is sometimes applied to them, but I think this may promise more than what is delivered; Heuchera leaves often lay flat in winter winds, but the crown of the plant will endure and emerge with new leaves in the spring.

 

‘Southern Comfort’ Coral Bells

 

Where will they grow? In a surprising range of the US. Heuchera can be found growing in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9 and is usually “evergreen” in Zones 7-9.

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