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Heathers

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Anyone who, during the summer months, has walked over the moor lands throughout the British Isles will appreciate the magnificent mass of colour provided by Heathers. Heathers are native to not only the British Isles, but also much of mainland Europe to northern Italy and as far north as Iceland. Due to seed of our native Calluna vulgaris (Scotch Heather) being accidentally introduced on packaging materials, it has also become naturalised in parts of Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada.

We had better point out that there are more heather species (Erica) in South Africa than anywhere else in the world. Many of these have been introduced and sold as pot grown house plants if, after flowering they are planted out in the garden they will die during the winter months. So do make sure the heather you are purchasing is hardy enough too grown outdoors in the garden.

Most of the heathers require a fertile, moist, but not waterlogged, acid soil. By incorporating plenty of composted bark, or peat, we grow them quite successfully in a sandy loam of PH6.5, which is almost neutral. If you garden on soils with a high lime content it is better to create beds raised 15/20cm above your normal soil level and infill this with half and half JI 3 compost and composted bark, or peat. Heathers can also be grown in tubs, or troughs, but Calluna’s and Erica cinerea hate hot feet, but both species like an open sunny site and will not produce so many flowers if grown in dense shade. The winter flowering heather, Erica carnea, is a mountain plant consequently it will tolerate drier soils and warmer sites and will grow in fertile soils of PH7 with less bark, or peat being used.

FLOWERING TIMES

Erica carnea is a superb winter flowering, dwarf evergreen shrub. Over 130 named forms have been introduced varying in size, foliage and flower colour. Flowering time is usually from December to March when there is little else in flower.

Erica erigena is a strong growing shrub, which will attain between 75 cm and 2 metres and flowers during April and May. It has sported a number of foliage and flower cultivars, but they will not tolerate wet feet and exposed sites, but the hybrids between this species and Erica carnea are named Erica x darleyensis and these although almost as tough as E carnea are much stronger growers growing between 45 and 70cms in height. The x darleyensis cultivars produce flowers from white through to dark amethyst, all flower from December to May.

The tree heather, Erica arborea forms a small tree in Southern Europe where its roots are used to make briar pipes, but it is very tender. However, the varietas alpina has been growing in our nursery showground for many years where, if left to its own devises would attain 2/3 metres in height. It is massed with honey scented white flowers in April/May.

Erica cinerea is a superb low growing shrub which, according to cultivar, is massed with flowers of varying colours from June to September. Daboecia cantabrica also flowers at this time with attractive urn shaped flowers. The sub species scotica is lower growing and freer flowering.

Although there is only one species in Calluna vulgaris over 600 named cultivars have been introduced, varying from dwarfs of 7cms to those which attain 60cms and with foliage of green, silver, or yellow. The flowers also vary from white to beetroot-red and appear from late June to September. Erica vagans, the Cornish Heath brings the season to a close; its stiff, upright branches produce masses of white, lavender, or pink flowers in September/October.

PRUNING

All of the summer flowering heathers can be pruned after flowering, or the brown seed heads left on until April. Erica arborea alpine and the x darleyensis hybrids can if room allows, be left to their own devises. If room is restricted they can be prune over as soon as their flowers have faded.

Please bear in mind that the plants listed may not be available at all times of the year. Email enquiries@goscote.co.uk for details of specific plant availability.

C
Calluna vulgaris Beoley Gold'  award
Calluna vulgaris Dark Star'  award
Calluna vulgaris Elsie Purnell'  award
Calluna vulgaris Golden Carpet'  ---
Calluna vulgaris 'Gold Haze'  award
Bears spikes of double yellow flowers and brightly coloured leaves. Height up to 2 ft. Requirs a well drained acidic soil. Prefers a sunny position.
Calluna vulgaris 'H.E. Beal'  ---
Bears spikes of double pink flowers. grows to 2ft. Requires a well drained acidic soil. Full sun preferred.
Calluna vulgaris Joy Vanstone'  award
Calluna vulgaris Kinlochruel'  award
Calluna vulgaris Peter Sparkes'  award
Calluna vulgaris 'Silver Knight'  ---
Compact evergreen shrub with silvery-grey foliage and lavender-mauve flowers in August. requires a moist, peaty soil in Sun. Clip in March to remove old flowers. Height 1.5 feet.
Calluna vulgaris 'Silver Queen'  award
Bears silver spiked double flowers with coloured leaves. Grows up to 2ft. Prefers well drained soil and a sunny position.
Calluna vulgaris Sir John Charrington'  award
Calluna vulgaris Sunrise'  ---
Calluna vulgaris Velvet Fascination'  award
Calluna vulgaris White Coral'  ---
Calluna vulgaris Wickwar Flame'  award
D
Daboecia cantabrica 'Atropurpurea'  ---
Bears deep purple pendant flowers from June to October. Height to 2 ft. Requires full sun and well drained acidic soil.
Daboecia cantabrica f. alba   ---
Bears white flowers amid dark green leaves from June to October. Height to 2ft. Requires full sun and well drained acidic soil.
Daboecia subsp. scotica 'Goscote'  ---
A beautiful heather with small dark green shiny leaves with a silver underside, and masses of beetroot-red flowers borne from June to October. Requires a fertile, peaty soil and flowers at its best in sun. Height 14 inches.
E
Erica  'Son of Cevennes'  ---
Grows 12/18ins tall.  Masses of lilac-pink flowers July/Sept.  Best in a peaty soil in full sun.
Erica arborea 'Alberts Gold'  award
A really outstanding, upright tree heather whose branches are tightly covered with yellow foliage. Masses of fragrant white flowers in April and May. Requires a fertile, acid soil. Work in plenty of peat or composted bark. Height 6 feet.
Erica arborea 'Estrella Gold'  award
A really outstanding tree heather whose branches are tightly covered with yellow foliage. Masses of fragrant white flowers in April and May. Requires a fertile, acid soil. Work inplenty of peat or composted bark. Height 6 feet.
Erica carnea 'Challenger'  award
Superb winter flowering heather with dark green foliage and masses of rose-red flowers from January to March. Requires a peaty soil and flowers best in sun. Height 9 inches.
Erica carnea Foxhollow'  award
Erica carnea Golden Starlet'  award
Erica carnea 'John Pook'  ---
Evergreen, spreading winter heather. White flowers that turn lavender pink from January to April. Requires a fertile, peaty soil. Height 9 inches.
Erica carnea Myretown Ruby'  award
Erica carnea Pink Spangles'  award
Erica carnea 'Praecox Rubra'  award
Evergreen, spreading winter heather.Dark rose pink flowers from December to February. Requires a fertile, peaty soil. Height 9 inches.
Erica carnea Springwood White'  award
Erica carnea 'Sunshine Rambler'  award
Excellent winter flowering heather with gold foliage that deepens in the winter. Lavender flowers from February to April. Requires a fertile peaty soil. Height 9 inches.
Erica carnea Westwood Yellow'  award
Erica carnea 'Winter Beauty'  ---
Superb winter flowering heather with masses of pink flowers from January to March. Requires a peaty soil and flowers best in sun. Height 6 inches.
Erica cinerea 'Pink Ice'  award
Dwarf evergreen heather with masses of pink flowers from late June to September.  Best grown in a peaty soil in sun.
Erica erigena Irish Dusk'  award
Erica erigena Superba'  ---
Erica erigena W T Rackliff'  award
Erica vagans Lyonesse'  award
Erica vagans Mrs D F Maxwell'  award
Erica vagans Valerie Proudley'  award
Erica x darleyensis Furzey'  award
Erica x darleyensis Jack H Brummage'  ---
Erica x darleyensis 'Kramers Rote'  award
A dense low-growing evergreen shrub with masses of deep pink flowers from January to May. Requires a moist, peaty soil in Sun or part shade. Clip if necessary in May. Height 1.5 feet.
Erica x darleyensis Silberschmelze'  award
Erica x veitchii 'Gold Tips'  award
A really outstanding, upright tree heather whose branches are tightly covered in green foliage with bright golden tips. Masses of fragrant white flowers in April and May. Requires a fertile, acid soil. Work in plenty of peat or composted bark. Height 6 feet.