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.
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.
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.