Plant of the Month – Heuchera THINGS TO DO
Heuchera are worth their weight for giving winter colour. There are dozens of varieties to choose from in colours ranging from zingy limes to obsidian black. Their evergreen leaves can brighten every part of the garden from the shade under shrubs to hanging baskets. The rule of thumb when choosing is that the darker the leaf the better suited they are to sun. Pale leaved types like ‘Key Lime Pie’ come into their own in shade, thriving where other plants would fail and brightening up gloomy spots. Best of all they’re pretty much immune to the attention of slugs. Instant colour goes a long way in winter and pots filled with burgundy red skimmia, scented Christmas box and violas add an instant splash of colour. The range of winter colour pot-fillers grows every year with evergreen grasses for those with urban tastes or cottage garden classics like primroses and pansies. All can be planted now – provided the compost isn’t frozen. On the veg plot, harvest sprouts from the bottom of the stems up and with cabbages, leave the trunks of the plants in slicing an ‘x’ with a knife across the severed ‘trunk’ to reap a second smaller crop of collards later in winter. Indoors, keep houseplant cyclamen cool, in a bright spot and watered from beneath for the longest-lasting flowers. Don’t forget our feathered friends at this time: with ever fewer berries and nuts in the hedgerows, birds migrate into our gardens looking for food. Robins, wrens and blackbirds appreciate high-protein snacks like mealworms, while tits and finches love seed mixes, especially those with plenty of sunflower hearts.