'Dark Star' Tiarella;
aka, False Miterwort
"Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light."
One of our Don Heims hybrid Foamflowers or Tiarellas is T. x cordifolia 'Dark Star,' which is growing quite near the Paperbark Maple, under which another Tiarella, 'Pink Bouquet,' flourishes.
The slim maroon five-point outline within 'Dark Star's' green leaves gives it its cultivar name. The dark veins are lighter in spring, & darken through summer, then, as with other of these hybrids, the whole leaf becomes bronzy in autumn. In very cold winters it will die back, but in our garden the tiarellas are partially evergreen, needing a good trimming not later than February to make room for newer leaves.
Tiarellas want rich loamy moist well-drained soil, but should be neither mulched nor watered during the winter or they may rot. Their own winter-persisting leaves are the only mulch they require.
The first photo was shot in August, the second was taken the following early April. The flowers spikes though subtle can be so numerous as to become showy. They are foamy white sprays for 'Dark Star,' & a light pink for 'Pink Bouquet.' But ultimately the leaves have the greater impact. The flower spikes should be removed after they are spent both to encourage rebloom, & so as not to distract from the striking foliage when blooms are no longer fresh. And that's about all the special care a tiarella requires. It is overall undemanding, spreading slowly by rhizomes into a dense, gorgeous, foot-high semi-evergreen groundcover, reliably adding spring & summer blossoms for areas of partial to full shade.
There are many, many hybrid cultivars of Tiarella, & others introduced every year. There is too-great-a-similarity of the majority that have made it to our county's nurseries thus far, & this has kept me from adding a great many tiarellas to our shade garden, since new patches would look too similar to the already settled patches.
But we'll certainly be adding some others as time goes by, keeping a highly critical eye on them for varieties that really do stand out from the majority. At the moment I'm thinking I would like to add 'Crow Feather' which develops an unusually striking winter coloration, & 'Black Snowflake' which has such deep-cut leaves it almost looks like hemp, adding blue-black hearts. But having only a limited space saved aside for them, I'll have to see more of the cultivars before I can really decide.
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