Enjoy Flowers Almost Year Round
With a bit of skill and thoughtful combination, you can design a heather garden that will bloom with typical robustness almost all year long.
True, Scotch heather (Calluna vulgaris) will flower from summer through fall in a professionally cultivated area, showing hues of white, red, and violet. Varieties, like bell heather (Erica cinerea) and cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) lend variation to the landscape. In the cold months, through til spring, winter heath (Erica carnea) forms thick, colorful carpets of flowers that can’t be missed. It’s not just the flower color that makes these plants attractive; some have colored foliage in hues of yellow, silver, and bronze. A heather garden is most effective when limited to just a few types planted in volume. Heather plants need a bright, sunny location with rich, light, and acidic, soil that drains well.
Evergreen trees such as pines and juniper are ideal additions. Take the common old juniper, with its markedly pillar-shaped growth – it’s perfect for lending optical depth to this garden plan.
Perennials like maiden pink (Dianthus deltoides), flax (Linum), and pussytoes (Antennaria), as well as a whole host of grasses – such as birdsfoot sedge (Carex ornithopoda) and spiky fescue (Festuca gautieri) – will also augment a heather garden. Quaking grass (Briza), blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), or moor grass (Molina) will give the design lightness and transparency. Don’t forget some small, fruit-bearing shrubs like blueberry and cranberry, which will of course also bear their delicious, vitamin-packed specialties.
Heather gardens are most effective when set over a slightly variable landscape, with small hills and valleys. It only takes some stones or old roots to acheive the effect. A truly authentic heather garden doesn’t demand a lot of space; a front garden can certainly suffice to capture a heather landscape in miniature.
Uncomplicated and easy-care
Heather gardens are easy and don’t need special care. Prune them annually to prevent them from growing too tall and to encourage flowering. Avoid cutting them too far back by making sure to snip right under to flower stems. Due to their shallow roots, avoid hoeing. It’s better to put down a layer of bark mulch between plants until they’ve formed a closed carpet of foliage. At that point, weeds will hardly stand a chance.