Written by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.
What’s in Bloom at Lasdon
Azalea Rhododendron spp.
Chokeberry Aronia spp.
Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida
Flowering Magnolia Magnolia spp.
Flowering Quince Chaenomeles speciosa
Lilac Syringa spp.
Redbud Cercis canadensis
Red Chestnut Aesulus x carnea
Viburnum Viburnum spp.
Weigela Weigela spp.
Barrenwort Epimedium spp.
Common Bleeding Heart Dicentra spectabilis
Hardy Geranium Geranium sanguineum
Heartleaf Bergenia Bergenia cordifolia
Heartleaf Foamflower Tiarella cordifolia
Springwood White Heather Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’
Sweet woodruff Galium odoratum
Yellow Archangel Lamium galeobdolan
Yellow Corydalis Corydalis lutea
Squill Scilla siberica
Coral Bells for Shade Gardens
Many people have difficulty finding plants for their shade garden. Fortunately, native coral bells (Heuchera) have become a great solution. In 1991 The Perennial Plant Association named Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ the perennial plant of the year. By the late 90’s, however, interest in coral bells declined. With the more recent introduction of hundreds of new coral bell hybrids with new leaf colors and leaf patterns, interest in them has again soared.
Coral bells offer beauty, low maintenance, multi-season interest, hardiness and deer resistance. They have a mounding habit and range in size from 12” to 20”. Coral bell flowers resemble small bells that are borne on tall, thin stems above the patterned foliage. The blooms usually last for 4 to 6 weeks and flowers of some of the new hybrids last even longer. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. When flowers eventually fade, the flower stems should be removed so that interest can be focused once again on the ornamental foliage.
Coral bells generally do best in shade to part sun. Coral bells with darker colored leaves are the hybrids that can tolerate more sun. They prefer a well-drained soil and good air circulation. Coral bells require little maintenance other than removing spent flower stems and cutting back any tired looking foliage as new growth begins in spring. The demands are indeed few and the rewards are many when using coral bells to brighten up the shade garden.