Spring Great Plants this Month

Heuchera americana ‘Harry Hay’

American alum root ‘Harry Hay’

image of Louise Sims
Louise Sims

Part of the enjoyment of writing this piece every fortnight is that invariably I get carried away by my subject and end up being side tracked: be it about the origins of the plant itself, the nursery where I first bought it, or sometimes, as in this piece, I start to wonder about the person after whom the plant was named.

Harry Hay was an amateur horticulturalist and pig farmer who lived in Surrey and died in 2010 aged 88. Besides making such a lasting contribution to the world of plants, he was held in great esteem by many, who would describe him as legendary, renowned and a generous friend. Harry Hay was, by all accounts, a quiet almost reclusive person.

The same cannot be said of the heuchera that was named after him. Larger than life and matched in impact and size only by H villosa ‘Autumn Bride’, it makes a huge clump of sumptuous glossy leaves which are variously described as deepest red, through mahogany brown to purple, almost black: shifts in the weather, the season and the soil seem to influence its colour. Tall spires of creamy white flowers start to appear from May onwards and are long lasting. This easy plant is hardy and grows happily in sun or part shade.

I have now discovered that a tulbaghia, a cardamine and a crocus also bear the name ‘Harry Hay’ so I shall definitely be looking out for them!

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

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