Posts Tagged ‘container’

The finest foliage perennials

February 22nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’, ‘Lime Marmalade’ and ‘Forever Purple’.

The number of different heuchera varieties now available is simply astonishing. These tough evergreens have established themselves as the finest coloured leaved perennials we can grow but the problem is that some are better than others – but how do we know?

The RHS lists almost seven hundred different varieties – seven hundred! -but which can we depend on?

The good people at Mr F have made their choice and picked a trio with foliage in wonderful colours: ‘Berry Smoothie’, ‘Forever Purple’ and ‘Lime Marmalade’. But it’s not just the colours of the leaves they’ve had in mind. These three varieties are strong and reliable growers, the leaves retain their colour all the year round, although they may change with the seasons, the neat overlapping foliage creates a dense cover and they’re reliable in propagation so there shouldn’t be any supply problems.

The leaves of ‘Berry Smoothie’ open bright rose pink, bronzing as the season progresses, and with creamy flowers in early summer. ‘Forever Purple’ has glossy purple, black-veined leaves all the year round, with purplish pink flowers in summer and the slightly larger ‘Lime Marmalade’ has ruffled lemon yellow leaves that turn lime green as they mature but with relatively insignificant flowers.

All three are good in containers and I like to grow them individually in terra cotta pots where they can be groomed as specimens to look their best all the time. Site them on the shady side of the patio. They’ll also thrive in shaded borders and appreciate well drained but rich soil.

The leaves are very long lasting when cut for posies and tabletop arrangements and I like to plant snowdrops and other spring bulbs amongst them for a sparkling spring display. And they bring you unique foliage colours that no other perennial provides. Why wouldn’t you try this colourful collection?

Colourful sweet potatoes

January 11th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Ipomoea 'Sweet Caroline Purple' and 'Sweet Caroline Green'

There are two kinds of Ipomoea. There’s the familiar ‘Heavenly Blue’, one of the loveliest of all climbers – of all flowering plants, in fact – but there’s also another type: the sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes have always been on the margins here in Britain, they need hotter summers than we’ve had here until recently but we can now grow them and they can crop well. But we can also grow ornamental sweet potatoes, varieties with a dramatically coloured foliage. Two of these are available this year.

These are not vigorous climbers, these are bushy semi-trailing or ground cover varieties that are superb in large hanging baskets, in large tubs or tumbling over the edges of raised beds. And it’s not for their flowers that we grow them but for their coloured foliage.

There are two varieties: ‘Sweet Caroline Purple’ and ‘Sweet Caroline Green’. The foliage of ‘Sweet Caroline Purple’ is, indeed, rich bronze-purple and it looks good in a large basket with red ivy-leaved geraniums or petunias. The leaves of ‘Sweet Caroline Green’ are more of a lime or chartreuse shade than simply green and are superb with petunias in fierier shades. Both also look good planted together or with coleus.

Both make dense growth, very effective ground cover in sunny sites – and they do like sun, whether grown in beds or containers. They like regular watering too and, when happy, ‘Sweet Caroline Purple’ may well produce a few pink-eyed white flowers though they’re usually hidden by the leaves.

Whether sweet potatoes as summer foliage plants is a new idea to you or not – they’re well worth a try.