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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yet Another Arbor!

You can never have enough arbors can you?  Arbors are the perfect portals for gardens.  They define the entrance, create a vertical element of interest, and just look pretty neat!  Today I put together a very simple gateway arbor as an entrance to the shade garden I've built for Lowe's Creative Ideas.  My last arbor used gutters to create planters but this arbor's purpose is to define the entrance to the shade garden.  It will also serve as a way to string a coated wire line around the perimeter of the garden to prevent deer from eating my hostas! The arbor is very simply constructed and from start to finish could easily be done in a single day of work.  In fact you probably could build several of these in that same day.

I dug the post holes yesterday.  They weren't too hard to dig back in the shady and humus rich soil of the back part of our yard.  Our yard is an anomaly in the mostly clay and limestone filled Tennessee landscapes!

Putting in the arbor was a simple job.  I used two 4x4 post pieces and two pieces of decking cut to 78 inches for the top cross pieces (the posts are set 64 inches apart which allows for a 6" overhang on either side of the posts).  To connect the top crosspieces I opted for a heavy duty screw that is normally used to attach a ledger board to a house for decking.  These bolts/screws worked perfectly for this arbor and look pretty classy all coated black

Once I pieced it all together on the ground and placed some gravel in the post holes I raised the arbor upright into its location. I made a slight adjustment to the gravel in one hole and checked for level several times before securing it.

To secure the arbor I placed two sawhorses nearby and clamped two pieces of decking to either side of the arbor.  The decking was resting on the sawhorses and should remain in a fixed location until the concrete can cure.

The decking was reclaimed wood from an old deck but the screws, posts, and concrete all came from Lowe's in Spring Hill, TN.  While I was at the store to get the screws I happened across two plants that had to come home with me!  One of which will go into this shade garden.  'American Hero' Hosta has thick leaves and a nice variegation.  Thicker leaves are usually more resistant to slugs. The flowers are fragrant too.

My other find was this echinacea.  It's called Sombrero Red Coral.  I think you can see why!  The blooms are a spectacular orange that changes to red.

The perimeter wire line fence still needs done but the arbor gives it a good start!  So far the deer have left the hostas alone without the fence so maybe my planting strategy if mixing deer resistant plants with the hostas is working!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Black Blister Beetle Battles

Another unforeseen issue has arisen in my garden: blister beetles!  These voracious beetles are systematically devouring the foliage of our plants.  So far they've taken turns tasting our tomatoes, tomatillos, and even a clematis.  I'm not heartbroken over the clematis as it's a sweet autumn clematis that grows like a weed - it will come back.  But I do want the tomato plants in the vegetable garden to prosper and so I need to find a way to eliminate the blister beetles before the foliage is all removed.

Black Blister Beetle Eating a Tomato Plant

I have what are called black blister beetles.  Blister beetle larvae are predatory insects that love to eat grasshopper eggs but when the larvae mature they become vegetarian and only eat the leaves of your favorite plants...

Black Blister Beetle on Tomato Plant
Black Blister Beetle with droppings

I noticed our blister beetles when I saw some strange droppings on top of the leaves and on some tomatoes in the vegetable garden.  Droppings are usually a sign of some sort of infestation - and usually aren't good although there are some possible exceptions like the larvae of butterflies like monarchs, swallowtails or other garden beauties. I looked above the droppings and found the black beetles on top of my tomatoes munching away.

I immediately went for the neem oil.  Neem oil is an organic extract from the neem tree that is useful in deterring pests and plant diseases.  The beetles didn't like the neem oil and I thought I had found the trick but they just moved on to the next tomato plant, but they didn't return to the first one.  Then I adjusted my strategy and mixed up soapy water in a sprayer.  That annoyed the beetles, they scattered around, and moved on again but didn't leave as I had hoped. I guess the tomato plant next door is just as good as the one I sprayed.  My next strategy was mixing a wormwood (artemisia) and catnip tea into the soapy water.  Again I was merely an annoyance.

My next course of action will be diatomaceous earth which I've read on various forums should do the trick.  Another recommendation I've seen in several places is to mix lime and flour together.  I'll go the diatomaceous earth route first then update you on the results!

Have you ever had blister beetle sin your garden?  How did you deal with them?

Friday, July 27, 2012

5 Vegetable Garden Design Tips

For several years now I've written about the value of planting in raised beds.  One of the most viewed posts on Growing The Home Garden is my post Designing a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden: 11 Things to Think About.  It has 11 design tips that will help your vegetable garden layout achieve its maximum potential.  Hopefully you'll find them useful!  I've been thinking lately that it may be a time for an update on these design tips.  Whether you use raised beds or not the concepts are easily applied to every vegetable garden! 

5 Vegetable Garden Design Tips

  1. Before you start your garden plan what you want to plant, how much you want to plant, and how much garden you have time to maintain.  It's very easy to go overboard on garden in the spring time when the plants are small.  You think to yourself "Oh, I can squeeze in these peppers next to the tomatoes..."  Then you end up with the tomato monster that ate your jalapenos.  Find out how much space is required for the plants and compare it to teh space you've allotted for your garden.  You'll either be left with two choices expand your garden or reduce your planting.  I have overplanted my garden every year so I know that this is very hard to do but plants with proper spacing will grow better and have fewer diseases than those squeezed together too tightly.
  2. Plan for a crop rotation.  There are few techniques more useful than crop rotation.  So many diseases that damage our plants are present in our soil and will stay there for several years.  If diseases effect your plants move them to different soil areas and plant unrelated plants in the effected location in the following year.  I've found that crop rotation is a tricky task to accomplish if you don't plan for it so its a good idea to keep a diagram of your garden and mark it each year with the types of plants you planted there.  Then you can go back and refer to your diagram when you begin planning each season.
  3. Design your garden for easy movement.  Getting around the garden is extremely important.  You want to be able to reach the center of each garden bed so don't make the bed width larger than you can reach to the center.  Any tomato you can't reach will eventually become a rotten tomato!  Pathways should be wide enough for people to comfortably get around the beds.  You may want to consider enough space for wheelbarrows and garden carts to fit as well. 
  4. How will you design your pathways?  If you're designing a formal vegetable garden your pathways may be gravel or mulch but if you're planting in rows you may just prefer to till occasionally throughout the season to keep the weeds down. Maybe you decided to let grass grow between the beds.  If that's the case then you need space for a mower and you'll need to trim around the beds to keep the grass from encroaching on sacred vegetable garden ground.  
  5. Can you get water to your garden?  Water is critical for growing vegetables.  If you can't get enough from normal rainfall you will have to irrigate.  Planting your garden too far away from a water source will reduce water pressure and will make it more difficult to water.  Wouldn't it be nice if rain occurred every other day and you didn't have to water?  We're dreaming of course!  The weather is always something tricky to plan around.  Rain barrels are great for extending the water through drought periods but can have debris in them from asphalt rooftops or bird droppings which you may not want to use in the vegetable garden.  To get through drought periods I like to use soaker hoses underneath the mulch in the garden.  That keeps the moisture when it belongs - in the soil!

I've made mistakes on all of these 5 vegetable garden design tips at some point, but I learned from those errors. I highly recommend a good, efficient plan before you start each season.  You may forget something, I always do, but the more you think your garden through the better it will be!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creating a Deer Resistant Shade Garden (Part 2)

A shade garden just isn't a shade garden without plants right? So what plants should get planted in a deer proof garden? Oops I said proof again. Nothing is 100% proof against a deer. Resistant is a better word. So let's try this again.  What kind of plants should be planted in a deer resistant shade garden?  Surprisingly there are quite a few good deer resistant candidates for shade gardens.  Take heucheras for instance.  Heucheras or coral bells are fantastic plants for shade gardens.  Heucheras like it dry, have quite a few colors to make things interesting, and can take the damage from deer and rabbits once established.  They also aren't extremely tasty for deer either!

In addition to heucheras, hellebores are very deer resistant. In fact the foliage is poisonous so deer really won't want to nibble on them very much. There a quite a few other plants possible to choose from that are deer resistant, so what did I choose to plant?

Pieris, pachysandra, and hostas!  Wait, I said hostas didn't I?  Hostas aren't deer resistant at all.  In fact far from it. So why did I plant them?  Because I'm setting up a barrier against the deer later, because I planted them among deer resistant plants with a mulch that will help disguise the scent, and because I like them and I refuse to give in to the deer!  By companion planting the hostas with other plants I reduce the odds of deer nibbles. My strategy consists of two ideas:
  1. Plant plants deer don't like.
  2. Protect the plants from the deer. 

I bought several plants from Lowe's for this Creative Ideas sponsored post. For shrubs I planted two kinds of pieris ('Flaming Silver' and 'Valley Rose') which are beautiful shade loving shrubs that the deer aren't fond of.  In fact they've nibbled one already but left all the parts behind.  It wasn't tasty!  Deer are creatures of habit so if they find something they don't like they will eventually go another direction for something better, like maybe my roses...

For a ground cover I planted pachysandra around the outside of the garden.  The deer may sample this from time to time but the idea is if they don't like it they will move on to more tasty parts of my garden. By bordering the garden with a plant the deer don't like it will discourage them from coming in further to sample the hostas which are planted on the inside of the garden.

The hosta I picked out was a beautiful light green leaved hosta with dark green edges.  Or is it a dark green hosta with a light green center?  Hmm... it's pretty neat which ever way you look at it.  'Paul's Glory' is its name.

I've transplanted several other plants into this garden from other areas.  Several other varieties of hosta and a few heucheras are now at home under the canopy of walnut and oak trees.  I'm planning on moving some hellebores to the garden before too long from some plants I need to divide.

One side note: Walnut trees have a chemical they release the retards the growth of many plants.  Heucheras and hostas are both resistant to juglons and can be planted under walnut trees.  

The next step for this garden is to add the deer prevention system!  AKA fence!  It will be a simple system using wires, posts, a little smoke and mirrors (not quite but close).  As soon as I get a chance (maybe this weekend) I'll get it all put together. If you missed part one of Creating a Deer Resistant Garden here's a link to for you to take a look at.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Creating a Deer Resistant Shade Garden! (Part 1)

I've always loved shade gardens.  Foliage plants like hostas and heucheras are two of my favorite types of plants and I just don't have enough space in my yard for them.  The other issue I have is deer.  They've eaten many of my plants over the years.  They love sampling a little bit of everything in the garden and there truly are few plants that are 100% deer proof.  But there are ways to make a garden resistant to deer to minimize their damage.  For my Lowe's Creative Ideas project this month I've set about to solve my deer problem by creating a deer resistant shade garden.  All the materials for the setup of this garden were purchased at our local Lowe's and paid for by Lowe's Creative Ideas.

To create a deer resistant garden of any kind you have to do several things: plant the right plants, disguise the plants with scents, or limit the access to the area.  Probably the most common thing to do is to set up a fence to limit access to the garden.  Fences for deer need to be about 8 feet high to completely limit their ability to jump over the fence but in my experience if a deer has an easier way to go they will.  Shorter fences often will serve as a decent deterrent, especially if you plant the right plants and disguise the plants with scents.

I won't be mention the plants I planted in the garden until my next post but I do want to talk about disguising them from the deer.  Many people will advocate using scented soaps, eggs, garlic, and all kinds of homemade concoctions.  Some of those ideas work very well but I went a different route.  I thought about my mulch first!  I chose two types of mulch pine bark mulch, which I used for pathways, and pine straw mulch, which is where the planting beds are.  Both mulches have a strong pine scent that is sure to irritate the noses of the browsing deer creating an effect aromatic disguise for non deer tolerant plants...AKA deer salad!

After I cleared the area of all the debris I weeded and laid down landscape fabric over the pathways.  The pine bark mulch then went on top of the pathways to make a nice and easy walking trail through the shade garden.  I didn't put the fabric down under the planting areas.  I removed nearly all the weeds from the area previously then went back over them with a scuffle hoe (which by far one of the most useful tools you'll ever run across!)  Scuffle hoes (or stirrup hoes) are shaped like a stirrup for a saddle and are sharpened on both sides.  As you run the hoe across the ground it slides just under the soil surface and cuts the weeds.  It makes easy work of weed clearing! 

After spreading the mulch I had purchased I realized something: no matter how much mulch you buy you will always need more!  I originally bought 5 bags of mulch for the pathways and needed another 6 to complete the project.  It's a good rule of thumb to plan for more materials than you think you are going to need anyway.   I love the idea of pine straw as a mulch.  It comes in bales at about $4 each.  A single bale can cover a 4' by 8' area very nicely!

There are two more parts to this project ahead: the planting and the fencing.  The planting is done and I'll share it will you soon but I haven't had time to place the fencing up yet.  I didn't want to go with a solid fence of any kind since I wanted to be able to see the garden from the outside so I came up with another idea: use fence posts to hold wires set at deer height intervals around the perimeter of the area.  By setting the wires at about 18" intervals the deer will be unable to pass into the garden.

I'll share more details on this part of the project once I can get to it!  Stop back by and check out my next post on the planting part of the deer resistant shade garden!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis)

A couple years ago I was given a blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) to add to my garden.  I planted it when it was covered with seeds and let it go to grow as it could as I do with so many plants. I forgot about it but apparently several seeds landed in different location near our front porch entry area and surprised us with its flowers this year.

Blackberry Lily with 'Powis Castle' artemisia and potato vines

Blackberry lily is a member of the iris family and resembles irises with its foliage.  The color and texture of the leaves is very similar but the formation of the leaves differs. 

The flowers are about 1 and a half inches in diameter and are colored bright orange with specks of darker orange to red colors.  The flowers eventually produce a seed that resembles a blackberry hence the name.  It readily grows from seed and it is extremely easy to cultivate!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Three Favorite July Flowers

It's always nice to have a few flowers that are so extremely reliable that you can count on them even during the most awkward periods of weather.  Recently it's been raining which has been helping us recover from our drought but these flowers were doing great in the drought conditions.  Let's take a look!

Orange cosmos is always a standout.  I haven't planted it in a while.  Cosmos is a prolific self sower, but not to the extreme that the beautiful orange flower can't be controlled.  It's a great flower for attracting beneficial insects!

'Black and Blue' salvia gets fairly large and spreads by its roots but will always have a place in my garden.  I've always been a big fan of salvia in general (see my posts Salvias of Fall or How Much Salvia is Enough?) but Black and Blue stands out to me with its dark stems and blue flowers. 

The bees like it too!  'Black and Blue' salvia is also a favorite of the hummingbirds. I can't count how many times I've been in the garden near this salvia and been buzzed by hummingbirds zipping by!

I just added 'Primadonna White' coneflower to the garden last week.  Echinaceas are another one of my favorite flowers because of their low maintenance.  They need deadheaded in the midseason to produce another flush of blooms but other than that are simple to grow.  I leave the seed heads on the plants at the end of the season to feed the birds.  The finches love them! (Echinacea suffers from Aster Yellows Disease on occasion, I'll have a post on that coming soon.)

I'm a day late but for more great blooms visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Bloomsday!

Friday, July 13, 2012

5 Vegetable Garden Things to Do in July

This July has been very strange for us here in Tennessee.  We ended June with intense heat and dryness which continued into July then the weather changed.  Rains came back and with them came the hope of producing a quality crop from the vegetable garden.  To achieve the best results from the vegetable garden there are a few things that gardeners should be doing this month.  Here's a short list of ...

5 Vegetable Garden Things to Do in July!

  1. Keep on top of the weeds.  Weeds left uncontrolled are infinitely worse than those dealt with on a regular basis.  Lots of moisture and high heat are good conditions for weed growth so they will be growing fast!  Fortunately rainy days loosen the soil and make pulling invasive weeds a simple chore!
  2. Continue to harvest vegetables.  The more you pick the more you'll get!  Constantly harvesting vegetables from the garden will encourage the plants to grow more fruit so they can reproduce, which means you get more to eat!  This is especially true with summer squash plants but carries over to many other garden vegetables.
  3. Plant your sequential vegetable crops.  If you squash has succumbed to borers or other ailments plant some more every couple weeks from seed to insure a steady supply of squash.  Of course if your squash has been prolific (as so many of them are) you might be tired of it for this year and your neighbors might be too! Also plant out your fall producers.
    Get those pumpkins in the ground if you haven't already as well as any other fall harvest squash plants.  Winter squash generally has a great shelf life and can last well into the winter.    
  4. Take notes!  Too often gardeners forget where they planted things last year or how a certain plant performed.  If you've had failures in the garden take notes on its growing conditions to help with your planning for next year.  This is also important if you've had issues from soil borne diseases so that you can work on your crop rotation plan.  It's also important to note those plants that did extremely well in the garden so that you can continue to grow those vegetables and give recommendations to your fellow gardeners.  Also take note of your vegetable garden layout (what was good about it and what wasn't) to see if you need to make any changes.
  5. Plan for your fall vegetable garden.  Here in Tennessee cool season crops that are somewhat frost tolerant can be grown beyond the frost date.  Spinach can easily last through our winters but so can many other leafy greens. I've had pak choi and lettuce both make it through our Tennessee winters.  You can even continue producing good quantities of food through hoop houses covering your raised beds.  If you are going to start cool season vegetables from seed for your fall garden plan it all out now and get your seeds ordered.  (I'm a big fan of Baker Creek and Renee's Garden for my seeds).  What vegetables can you grow in fall in Tennessee?  Spinach, lettuce, kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, beets, cabbage, snap peas, pak choi, and many others.  To figure your fall crop planting date get your first frost date and count back the amount of days until harvest that you can usually find on your packet of seeds.  Then give yourself an extra two weeks.

The recent rainy days have given me time to think about my fall garden.  Usually I wait too late to get things started for my fall vegetable garden but I'm hoping to get ahead of the game this year.  Do you grow a fall vegetable garden?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garden Status Report: Mid July

It hardly seems to me that spring had even started before it was gone.  This growing season has gone by so quickly, or maybe I'm just getting too busy!  Unfortunately the garden has been through some rough times.  Drought and unbelievable record heat have crippled gardening in many ways from killing plants to keeping gardener's with common sense indoors (although I'm not sure I completely fit in that category!)  Here are a few photographs of how the gardens are doing now.    

Zucchini - Costato Romanesco

The vegetable garden is growing along just fine despite the weeds and weather.  I need to spend 3-4 days out there getting the weeds in check which should be a lot easier now that we've had rain to loosen the soil.  Before the rains removing weeds was like trying to remove the Sword In the Stone!  If successful I guess that would make me king of ragweed...?

Tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.   We've picked a grand total of 4 ripe tomatoes so far: three cherry tomatoes and one yellow pear tomato.  Yes we're rolling in tomatoes...not literally of course.  Actually we will have quite a few coming in very soon.  The excessive heat slowed their production down and since the temperatures have now dropped the ripening has really begun. 

Melons are coming in like crazy.  They aren't ripe yet but I have a feeling we'll have more than we can eat soon.  Unfortunately I had to throw away a developing Yellow Midget melon due to a rabbit's appetite.  I wish they would at least have the courtesy to eat the whole melon and not just take a few bites to ruin the fruit!  I won't be saving leftovers for rabbits.

Aster yellows disease on coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)
The ornamental gardens are getting by OK now.  The tough as nails coneflowers have made it through the drought decently but not all is well in coneflower land.  Aster Yellows the dread disease spread by annoying leafhoppers has reared its ugly head.  I pulled one coneflower plant out of a front garden and a second one out of the backyard garden.  It also took down one of my favorite gaillardias, an 'Oranges and Lemons'.  Once a plant has aster yellows there is no cure.  The best thing to do is to remove the infected plants to prevent the spread of the disease to healthy plants. 

My daughter and I transplanted some coleus that we started from seed a few weeks ago in the from garden with the sitting wall.  It was a mixture of colors from a store bought package. Some of them look very cool while others rather lackluster.  I'll save seed from the best and plant that seed next year.  Who knows? Maybe I'll even take a crack at hybridizing some coleus!

I'm excited to see flowers forming on a blackberry lily.  One was given to me a year or so ago that was covered in seeds.  I didn't plant this one here but the seeds may have landed and sprouted on their own.  I think interplanting blackberry lilies with irises would be a good way to disguise the foliage of irises in the summer.

Bees on passionflower

With the drought the insect population seemed almost non-existant.  Except for the ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes of course.  But the bees are back in force! It's good to have the pollinators back at work!

How's your garden growing?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clearing a Shady Area for a Garden

In the very back of our property we have a shady area.  It's about the only shady area that has occured naturally in our landscape.  A mixture of walnut, sassafras, hackberry, and maple trees create a shade area that until recently was completely unusable!  It was a problem area in our landscape which I thought would make a great subject for my next Lowe's Creative Ideas project.  Why is this area a problem?  First of all it's an area I would like to utilize for growing more plants (mostly heucheras and hostas).  But also because it has housed a couple invasive plants that really need removed from our property: Japanese honeysuckle and poison ivy! 

Brushy area in the shade in need of clearing.

Poison Ivy mixed with Virginia Creeper
I'm sure you know why poison ivy needs removed.  Fortunately I am not allergic to it however that doesn't mean my children or guests will be too.   Poison ivy contains a very potent chemical called urushoil that caused skin reactions.  Japanese honeysuckle may not seem like such a bad thing at first but when it runs rampant it completely stops anything growing underneath it from growing.  It grows extremely fast and is very hard to keep up in check.

Pick-up sticks!

The back area also was a dumping ground for this gardener who accumulated sticks and branches from pruning trees and shrubs and set them in piles.  The sticks have decomposed a little but will be put in a wood pile in another location for use in the backyard fire-pit we have.  (Which I've only used 2-3 times to burn dead tomato plants!)  The smaller branches, sticks, and leaves that came with them were all placed in an empty compost bin to continue the decomposition process.  I'll add green grass clippings soon to help heat it all up and speed the composting process.

I've used large cardboard boxes to tamp down weeds in some areas in order to reach further into the brush areas for cleanup.  The blue tarp in the back is covering some leftover wood from various projects like building the blue shed.  I hope to use some of those pieces of lumber to make a small storage place for my garden carts.  

Step one of this project was to clear the area. Here's what we have now after an afternoon of work this weekend!

While working I discovered an old dog dish and a very large collar which belonged to the people who lived here before us.  Actually it probably belonged to the rottweiler that lived here - people don't usually wear collars...

And the tools I used in my efforts: a bow saw and a garden rake!  I consider both of these tools as essential garden tools for any homeowner.  The bow saw is handy for trimming thick branches from trees quickly without the need for power equipment.  I've used my rake for everything from spreading gravel to mulch, to compost, to weeds and leaves. 

Step two will be to cover it in some way that will prevent weeds and invasives from reclaiming it.  Then step 3 will be replanting it with plants I like! Do you have any suggestions or ideas on how to creatively plant this area?  Raised beds?

Friday, July 6, 2012

5 Heucheras and How They Perform

Over the years I've accumulated quite a few heucheras for my garden.  Heucheras or coral bells are becoming more and more popular as a wide array of unique cultivars continue to come on the market.  You might even think that heucheras are relatively new to the horticultural world when in fact they've been tinkered with by horticulturalists since the late 1800's.  Heucheras are native to North America and can be found naturally from the west coast to the east coast.  Heucheras thrive in rock gardens and in dry shade where other plants might not be so happy.  Heuchera breeders are working on developing more sun tolerant heucheras as well as heucheras with larger flowers. As a general note I'm fascinated with them.  Foliage colors range from green to amber to brown to purple while the bell shaped flowers general stay between a mid range pink to white in color.

Today for my Friday Five post I'll share with you a few of my heucheras and tell you how they've performed in the growing conditions here in Tennessee.  The pictures were all taken in a previous year as the drought and heat have really taken a toll on everything in my garden.  Even drought tolerant heucheras are not immune to 110 degree heat!  But the fact that they are drought tolerant will likely get them through the worst of it.

Here are 5 Heucheras that I've grown in my garden and how they have performed! 

Heuchera - Dale's Strain
'Dale's Strain' has been a great performer in my garden.  It's planted in nearly full shade underneath the foliage of a 'Shasta' Viburnum and a birch.  'Dale's Strain' has green foliage with frosted white on the leaves.  This heuchera has been widely used in hybridization of other heucheras.

Heuchera 'Midnight Rose'
This beautiful heuchera has dark purple foliage that is almost black with spots of a lighter purple that resemble stars in the night sky.  It's been located in my corner shade garden which houses a number of heucheras as well as hostas.  The intense heat and sunlight have actually cause some mutations in the coloring which have given some leaves a mottled or marbled look with some cream tones.  'Midnight Rose' is a sport mutation from another heuchera called 'Obsidian'.  It's a beautiful heuchera but needs shade to maintain its appearance.

Heuchera 'Silver Scrolls'
I fell for this heuchera the second I read about it.  I found it locally, planted it, then it died by the end of the year!  If I remember correctly it's death coincided with the floods of 2009.  Heucheras aren't fans of too much water.  'Silver Scrolls' has silver colored leaves that would have made a nice contrast with my 'Midnight Rose' had it survived!

Heuchera 'Palace Purple'
'Palace Purple' is perhaps one of the easiest to find heucheras around.  It's a good solid heuchera for any beginning heucherafile!  It comes true from seed which is one reason why it is so easily found in garden centers. That shouldn't diminish its value though. 'Palace Purple' has purple foliage with a pinkish colored underside.  It looks great when planted with light greens or chartreuse plants.  'Palace Purple' has performed great in several locations in my garden include some fairly sunny spots. 

Heuchera 'Mystic Angel'
'Mystic Angel' is another really neat heuchera that has grown nicely in my garden.  It's in full shade underneath a crape myrtle and hasn't has a single issue.  It transplanted well last year and hopefully will again this fall since it needs to be a in a location where it can be seen.  It was a victim of the "I want this plant now even though I have no clue where to plant it" syndrome.

Heucheras are a very good alternative to hostas if you live in a deer or rabbit populated area.  They are extremely resistant to foraging.  Nothing is completely deer proof and I have had the flowers nibbled on by the deer, but that sure beats the whole plant becoming a salad bar! For more information on Heucheras I recommend Heucheras and Heucherellas: Coral Bells and Foamy Bells from Dan Heims and Grahame Ware.  Dan Heims is an expert on the hybridization of many types of plants with heucheras and founder of Terra Nova nursery a premier plant producer!  Or you could look into Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella: A Gardener's Guide by Charles and Martha Oliver.  Their Primrose Path nursery has produced quite a few well known heucheras that gardeners enjoy.  (Both of those links take you to Amazon.com)

Since this is a Friday Five post I only included 5 heucheras but if you would like some other selections that are more sun tolerant try 'Southern Comfort', 'Amethyst Mist', or 'Kassandra'.  I was given an 'Amethyst Mist' by a friend of mine who has it planted in her full afternoon sun front yard but I haven't tested that just yet.  Southern Comfort does pretty good in the sun but has suffered in the heat and drought this year.  'Kassandra' is very similar in appearance to 'Southern Comfort' and seems to perform just as well!