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January's Featured Conservation Plant

Heuchera ‘David’

This heuchera was found as a seedling by HPS member, Mrs Mary Ramsdale who lived at Cliffe gardens near Ilfracombe in N. Devon, who named it in 1994 after one of her children. (H. 'Rachel' was another of her introductions also named after a child). She entered H. ‘David and H. ‘Winkfield’ in the Purple-foliage section of the RHS Trial of Heuchera 1998-2001 and developed her interest in heucheras into a National Collection. Maintenance of the Collection passed to another Devon gardener, Bryan Russell, but on his retirement, he felt the upkeep required to maintain the plants was too great and so the heucheras moved to a site at Exeter University. The University no longer holds the National Collection and some of the plants have found their way to Plantagogo in Cheshire who are the current National Collection holders.

Mixing green and purple produces a dark greenish-brown colour and this is perhaps the best way to describe the colour of the round-lobed slightly toothed foliage with the reverse of the leaves being a dark maroon. Whilst most heucheras are now seemingly bred for an increasing range of brightly coloured foliage, H. ‘David’ produces a succession of white flowers from pink buds on long flower stalks that extend well beyond the foliage over a long season from early summer to the first frosts.

The plant is a very good cultivar that is a strong grower in sun or part shade and stays looking good even when it is not in flower over the winter. The evergreen foliage of Heuchera 'David' reaches a height of 30-40cm with the flower spikes extending to 40-50cm depending on the soil conditions. It will grow in a range of conditions but dislikes extremes of wet and dry soils.

Propagation can either be by basal cuttings or division. Alternatively, if the plant becomes woody at the base, which it can tend to do, the whole thing may be dug up and planted in a deeper hole which usually results in the 'branches' rooting individually.

As with all Heucheras it is vulnerable to vine weevil so any grower must be vigilant, especially if it is kept in a pot.

(H. ‘Rachel’ and H. ‘Winkfield’ are no longer listed in the RHS Planfinder, but perhaps HPS members in Devon may know more about the story of Mary Ramsdale’s heucheras)

Posted by Jan Vaughan

2 Comments To "January's Featured Conservation Plant"

Chris Price-Morris On 05.01.2017
Plantagogo are sharing their " Passion for Heucheras" with the HPS Clwyd Group in North Wales next month. I wonder what diamonds they will bring along to tempt us with. Thanks for the vine weevil tip. Reply to this comment
Margaret Stone On 30.12.2016
I have grown 'David' for many years but did not know that it came from Cliffe, a garden with an amazing sea-view and memories of happy holidays. An interesting article. Reply to this comment
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