Since Victorian times Heather has been used as an ornamental plant in gardens and containers.
Combining plants of different flowering seasons with colorful foliage forms will provide a tapestry of changing colors throughout the year. Heathers enjoy growing in full sun in moist but well drained soil. Removing faded flowers and applying a generous mulch of composted bark will ensure long term success with these easy to grow plants.
This, the true Scotch heather is a single genus and species with hundreds of cultivars. It is native to Europe and Asia Minor. It bears tiny, needle like, dark or light green, grey or yellow leaves and spikes of bell-shaped flowers. Garden types range from dwarf ground cover and rock garden sorts only a couple of inches high to plants reaching 3 feet tall. Blossom colors include white, pale-to-deep pink, lavender, and purple.
They flower mid- to late summer; a few continue on into late fall. Handsome foliage pale and deeper greens, chartreuse, yellow, gray, or russet often changes color in winter. Many will produce brilliant spring tip colour, white, red, orange and yellow before the pigment of chlorophyll masks this spring tip show.
Erica species and Daboecia species
The heather garden here at HCP becomes a stunning show of colour starting in December and continuing into mid-spring. The Genus Erica carnea and Erica X darleyensis really shows off as mounds of white, purple, lavender, pink appear, chartreuse. Tree forms such as Erica arborea and Erica canaliculata present a stunning display of colour and fragrance.
Other Ericas such as E. cinerea, E. tetalix and E. vagans come into bloom June to August. Daboecia sp. form distinct bell like flowers over the entire summer.