Splashy coral bells and stylish fall grasses complete a garden

October 4, 2010

By Contributor

It is not your grandma’s garden anymore. New and elegant plants are being introduced more frequently than ever.

Not many plants are more successful than the multitude of new “coral bells,” heuchera (pronounced hew-ker-uh) and the plethora of hardy grasses when it comes to adding movement and soft structure to any garden design.

Heuchera is a perennial with a multitude of foliage colors, textures and design uses. There are cultivars for every exposure from full sun to full shade, and the plant is used in a similar way to hosta.

The showy veining on the leaves and softly ruffled edges work beautifully planted in clusters. “Caramel” or “green spice” heuchera adds a contemporary feeling in a partly shaded setting with plants such as viburnum “davidii” or hydrangea paniculata “quickfire.”

A vivid range of colors — such as “southern comfort” and “peach flambe,” as well as jewel tones, like “obsidian,” “velvet night,” “midnight bayou” and “purple ruffles” — blends and contrasts with any combination of plants. There are even a few metallic tones that you might find superb: “silver scrolls” and “pewter veil.”

The amazing number of choice grasses that there are to choose from is ever increasing as well.

Hakonechloa “all gold” is graceful, billowy and contrasts well with dark foliage and blooms. Evergreen carex “ice dance” lights up the shade with its nautical white stripes. Both are low and easy to maintain.

For bold and dramatic scale around your garden’s border, you might want to try miscanthus sinensis zebrinus or “zebra grass.” Horizontal stripes of cream are the unusual mark on this tall and stately grass. Tawny plumes emerge in fall and last for weeks in the landscape. They work well in fall flower arrangements before they get too far open with a frothy texture.

Christina Salwitz is a certified plantsman and garden designer at Newcastle Fruit and Produce Co.

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