IT MIGHT not be open at the moment — like much of the rest of the world — but right on our doorstep we are blessed to have a nursery specialising in one of my favourite bedding plants.

Heucheraholics, on the fringe of Lymington, - one of my favourite easy- reach mainland towns - has a good representation of the currently 460 widely differing varieties of heuchera available in the UK.

It may not be possible to visit but they do mail order and, of course, our local garden centres will also have a good range.

There has been an explosion of interest in this versatile plant which I discovered a couple of decades ago and which has risen to ever greater prominence since its first blossoming when I was a boy.

Obsidian, which is a rich, deep purple variety, was chosen from a local garden centre by our residents’ association chairman for the troughs I look after at the Bullen Cross bus shelter, rubbing shoulders with geraniums, variegated ivy and trailing begonias.

Barbara chose a most attractive mix. They flourished for four years but probably now need refreshing because some succumbed to the summer drought when Barry’s bus-stop rain-butt ran dry. That is one of their Achilles heels, they don’t much like drying out, just as they hate being waterlogged.

The variations in foliage colour available now are even more stunning than just four years ago and certainly two decades before when heuchera Marmalade was new and was then my plant of choice.

Isle of Wight County Press: Heuchera Marmalade from Thompson and Morgan.

Heuchera Marmalade from Thompson and Morgan.

Now it is impossible to choose a favourite because all are good and so, so varied, ranging from vivid greens with wavy-edged or scalloped leaves to chocolate purple, bronze, pewter grey, even apricot orange (as in Marmalade) and sometimes marked, or lobed, with another colour. Tiny white, pink or red summer flowers are an added bonus and, although small, add height and variety.

Heuchera in these mild Island climes are evergreen in all but our coldest winters, and form pretty, compact clumps. Sun or light shade suits most — enough light is necessary to bring out the leaf colour — but direct, sustained, strong sunlight will crinkle the leaves of some cultivars.

Heucheras spread slowly, so are best planted in groups for maximum effect. Different contrasting varieties create a patchwork of colour.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Heuchera Northern Exposure Lime from Heucheraholics.

When I re-do the troughs I will probably go for a very similar planting, maybe including the rust-resistant Northern Exposure Lime, which is more robust in most situations. And I will definitely incorporate water-retaining granules in the fresh compost. They are such a boon for container cultivation.

Crossing heuchera with the related tiarella has produced heucherella which has widened the range still further. The flowers may still be diminutive but they are valuable to butterflies and bees.