I’ve enjoyed growing this perennial for many years and photos like the one above will make any gardener appreciate the value of the late season coloration on these fanned, maple-like leaves of mukdenia (Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasuba’). This coral bells (Heuchera) relative is native to rocky slopes and ravines in China, Manchuria and Korea. Preferring moist, fertile and well-drained soils, this hardy perennial (to Z4) blooms in early spring (see below) and the foliage starts with red pigmentation on the leaf tips in summer with an increasing degree of red until frost. It is important to note that the variety ‘Karasuba’ is identical to ‘Crimson Fans’. Reaching 16″ or so in height and ultimately 24″ in width, this plant has thrived for us in part sun which it seems to prefer. Ample moisture is again important but the ornamental merit of this plant is quite evident in both Spring and Fall. It is important to note that these first three photos (taken at the Walters Gardens Trial Garden in Zeeland, MI) are the best shots I’ve taken of this perennial later in the season. The degree of red seems to vary each year and those with more sun seem to have stronger coloration. Regardless, this perennial has a bright future in our partly shaded garden!
As I type this blog, the Chicago area is getting pounded with snow but we were spared from this recent system. The cloudy day, while cool, still allowed for lots of progress out in the gardens with the take down of the massive Holiday Light Show (HLS). Both Larry H. and Big John headed right out to continue retrieving many of the lights, cords, luminaries and other elements of the show that had been trapped in ice for the last six weeks. Myrt and Gena came in for some painting today. Janice was in to work on research for the Spring Plant Sale. We also saw Cindy, Bill O., Dick H. and our Horticultural Therapy Committee (Cindy, Darcie, Janice, Art and Karen) was at the Horticulture Center for their monthly meeting. We continue to plan for our July 27th Horticultural Therapy Symposium (more details to follow). I continue to prepare for Spring out in the gardens as well as our Spring events like the Compost Sale and Spring Plant Sale. We do have some early bulbs up in the gardens (snowdrops and winter aconite) which I’ll photograph soon. Spring is in the air!