Good and bad pruning
Wild lobelia

Long life cut foliage

Heuchera 'Citronellle' and Heuchera 'Frosted Violet' Before I went over to England for the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – on 21 June to be precise – we had some friends over for supper and I picked a bouquet from the garden which consisted entirely of foliage. Different shapes, different textures, different colors: there were all sorts of things including ferns, iris leaves, physocarpus, hostas, hellebores, vincas and lots more – including the leaves of two heucheras.

And here we are on the 27 July and those two heucheras still look great. The two varieties are ‘Citronelle’, about which I’ve bashed on here more than once before, and ‘Frosted Violet’. (The other plant peeping into the picture is Vinca minor 'Illumination' which has also lasted well.)

‘Citronelle’ is one of the new series of heucheras derived from H. villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ by the French plant breeder Thierry Delabroye. They come in all sorts of new colours but ‘Citronelle’ is the best of those I’ve grown. ‘Frosted Violet’ comes from the pioneer heuchera breeder Charles Oliver and I especially like it for its jaggedly edged foliage (so many heucheras in this colour range have rounded lobes to their leaves) and the especially smoky haze to its colouring.

Garden to Vase by Linda Beutler I took a look in last year’s splendid book on cutting flowers and foliage from the garden, Garden to Vase by Linda Beutler, to see what she had to say about heucheras. “Leaves in vase arrangements can last more then ten days,” she says. Yes, three and a half weeks longer than ten days! Actually, this is a really useful book with bucket loads of good advice and none of it too technical for those of us – almost all of us at this blog (with two very honorable exceptions I know of)  – who are not professional florists although professionals will find it valuable too.

I especially liked her recipe for home made flower preservative. I’ll give it here as an example of the good practical advice you’ll find throughout the book. It’s so simple. Use it instead of plain water.

One 12oz can of non-diet lemon-lime clear soda
Three 12oz cans of water (use the soda can as a measure)
One tablespoon of chlorine bleach

In Britain, where everything is metric, I’m sure you can work it out – just don’t use a larger proportion of bleach. You’ll need to get the book to learn about which flowers are especially sensitive to bleach.

And that’s one of my two criticisms of the book: for a book that’s sold in Britain as well as the USA, it’s simply perverse that no metric equivalents to the old Imperial measurements are given. The other problem is the fact that the author seems to have no knowledge of the research on hellebores as cut flowers published in a book from the same publisher the previous year. But if you cut flowers from your own garden, set that aside and buy the book anyway.

Buy Garden to Vase by Linda Beutler in North America from

Buy Garden to Vase by Linda Beutler in Britain from


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Linda Beutler

Thanks for the kindly plug for Garden to Vase. As to Hellebores: I am quite well aware of research done on Hellebores used for cutting, and had conversations with Cole Burrell as he was going to press. My own research, after 20+ years as a florist, is that there doesn't seem to be any one method of conditioning them for home gardeners that consistently works. Also, using isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) is often mentioned as being helpful with hellebores, with no further hint as to whether it is used as a dip for cut stems or as a water additive. Any light that could be shed on this topic, any tip that yields consistent results, would be greatly appreciated.
Enjoy your garden, Linda B

Graham Rice

Thanks, Linda - Personally, I don't bother cutting the H. x hybridus types at allI Instead I just pick the individual flowers and float them on water in an attractive bowl or arrange them on damp moss. H. x nigercors, H. x ericsmithii and the like seem much easier - 'Ivory Prince' etc - and I just cut them as low as possible, straight into water, recut and arrange in water with flower food.

I also find that the foliage of the prettily marked forms of H. x ericsmithii (and, I would suspect, H. x ballardiae) lasts very well in water.

This is a great book - I'm recommending it to my florist friends...

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