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If purple is your passion, then here’s a Spirit to satisfy your color craving. Palace Purple Coral Bells brings rich burgundy-purple foliage to your garden for months and months—all year long in mild climates. The tops of the Maple-shaped leaves range in color from shimmering purple to deep chocolate-red, depending on the time of year and exposure, while the undersides reveal glowing ruby-red when the sun catches them just right. Palace Purple goes with everything. Use this easy edger to give definition to pastel-colored flowers; it also holds its own with bolder colors. A classic.
This is the one that started it all. Thanks to breeders’ efforts, Coral Bells are available in a rainbow of colors these days, but Palace Purple was the first one to wear a color other than green. Brian Halliwell, a curator at Kew Gardens in England, found it growing in a bed near the Queen’s Palace on the grounds of that famous botanic garden in 1980. Palace Purple was introduced to the U.S. in 1986, although it was an American native all along. The seed had come from a population of purple-leaved Coral Bells growing in the Southeast.
n 1991, the Perennial Plant Association chose Palace Purple Coral Bells to be their very first “Perennial Plant of the Year.” The selection was based on multiple-season appeal, adaptability, pest resistance, and ease of maintenance. The sturdy Spirit also won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the British Royal Horticultural Society.
How to Grow
Most Coral Bells do best in morning sun, with shade during the hottest part of the day. Bright light will bring out the richest coloring in their foliage, but intense sun can scorch some varieties. Plant Palace Purple in rich, organic, well-drained soil that is moist but never soggy. Trim off spent flower spikes if you find them unattractive. Palace Purple is evergreen; clean up any winter-damaged foliage in early spring. Black vine weevils can be a problem in some areas. You can control them organically with beneficial nematodes if this is the case, or simply keep your Coral Bells in containers.
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