At last – the season begins

Heuchera_mix_largeAt last, it looks like the gardening season can begin. It was around 8C this afternoon, though colder when I came in at 6pm. But no rain, no icy wind and no snow. We’re already the beginning of March and there’s only now the merest hint of spring flowers opening. I’ve been reluctant to wake up from winter hibernation. It’s easy to start gardening too early. Last week, for example, temperatures fell below zero and we had a dusting of snow on the ground. Finally today, though, even the white cloud lifted so we saw blue sky and felt the sun. We should be out in the station garden on Tuesday.

I was out clearing my own garden, cutting back overgrown climbing roses and digging up an ancient lavender. Thinking of the shady plot at the station, I propagated some heuchera. We already have five planted at the lowest corner of the triangle, which I propagated a year or so back. They have wonderful leaf colour and bring interest to a shady space.

In fact, I think I’m probably a heucheraholic. Just the names of some of the varieties are enough to whet your appetite: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cafe au lait, Plum Pudding, Electric Lime and my favorite, Licorice.

Heuchera can be propagated instinctively. Once the stems get woody, they break off, almost shouting ‘plant me’. It’s just a case of cutting the stem to live wood, cutting off the mature leaves and planting up in moist potting compost until the roots take. That’s worked for me. There are two excellent videos to give a bit more detail, one from Richard Loader and George Lasch from the Northwest Perennial Alliance in the US. As a bit of warmth promotes the root growth, preventing the plantlet from rotting (Richard was propagating in June), I think I need to bring the plantlets inside for March.

They’ll be competing for space on a south-facing window sill with the vegetable seeds we’ll probably be planting soon for the edible growing garden (see February post on our planting plans).

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