Rain at root of heuchera toll

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The past winter was certainly one that could not be described as severe in this area but there were, nevertheless, plant losses reported by a few local gardeners.

Unusually, it was herbaceous perennials that suffered. This group of plants can generally be relied upon to come back to life year after year. In particular, it was heucheras that did not fare well. As well as in individual gardens, each of the boxes on the High Street that are planted up and looked after by Hawick in Bloom volunteers had a heuchera and the large island bed at the Horse they took over a couple of years ago had several of them among the pansies.

Losses there are excessive – there are hardly any left worth keeping. It can probably be put down to all the rain which resulted in very wet soil and so the roots just rotted.

During what is often termed a ‘bad winter’ when heavy falls of snow cover plants to be followed by severe frost, under this ‘blanket’ of snow plants are protected from the worst of the weather, in contrast to sitting in sodden soil.

Many clumbs of herbaceous perennials, however, are now putting on lots of new growth and what can spoil any potential show later in the season is wind. Most are tall growing and benefit from some form of support and this can be achieved in several ways. Whatever method is chosen it is best to be in place before it is really needed – which means now – so that the shoots are kept growing straight.

Also excellent for supporting tall-growing perennials are tiered and tapered rings some two feet in length which are placed over a cluster of stems preventing them from being bent or even broken by wind.

All these aids are green so that they merge seamlessly among the foliage.