Heathers: Ericas and Calluna

 Mixed, heather planting

Mixed, heather planting

Sadly heathers have become deeply unfashionable, but are they due for a return to garden fortune?

They first had their heyday in the Victorian era. With the Victorians love of the romantic landscapes of the Cumbrian fells the Scottish highlands fed by Royal fashion. They were widely planted over the Victorian rocky, great and small. Heathers next big moment on the British garden scene was the 1970’s with the island bed, with mixed conifers and heathers to give all year round interest and a desire for low maintenance. But these tough plants, have long flowering seasons and a lot to offer. Here are some to consider.

 Calluna vulgaris 'Beoley Gold'

Calluna vulgaris ‘Beoley Gold’

Calluna ‘Beoley Gold’: Low growing with good golden evergreen foliage and delicate bell shaped white flowers in August to September.

 Erica carnea 'Golden Scarlet'

Erica carnea ‘Golden Scarlet’

Erica carnea ‘Golden Scarlet’: Bushy growth with bright yellow evergreen foliage. Masses of small white flowers. Flowering from December- March.

 Calluna 'Dark Beauty'

Calluna ‘Dark Beauty’

Calluna ‘Dark Beauty’: Low growing compact heather with mid-green evergreen foliage. Deep red semi- double flowers, flowering late summer.

Erica carnea 'C.D Easor'

Erica carnea ‘C.D Easor’

Erica cinerea ‘C.D. Eason’: Dark green evergreen foliage, with bright red flowers flowering from June to September.

Calluna 'Firefly'

Calluna ‘Firefly’

Calluna ‘Firefly’:A wonderful variety it’s green evergreen foliage turns a rust orange in the winter. Crimson flowers produced July-August.

 Erica x darleyensis 'Furzey'

Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’

Erica x darleyensis ‘Furzey’: Strong growing heather with dark foliage. Purple flowers produced from December to April.

Top Tip: Heathers, that is Cullnas and most Ericas, like a neutral to slightly acidic humus rich soil. But there are a few Ericas that will survive and even grow well in a chalky alkaline soil. This low maintenance shrub, needs little looking after. Just a light trim after flowering to keep good compact shape.

 Heathers mixed winter planting

Heathers mixed winter planting

Heathers have a lot to add to the mixed planted boarder, from sweeps of low colour in a winter planting. Or used in a rockery setting, or as a low maintenance plant with good ground cover properties. Heather is a superb plant for steep bank planting. There is an endless choice of varieties that take the flowering season from the bleak winter months, through spring and then become the highlight of late summer and autumn low planting. With many soft pastel shades of white, pink and purple to some eye popping reds and varieties with golden and even strong yellow foliage. These plants can shine through the year. If you have the right growing conditions, perhaps it is time to look a new at Ericas and Cullunas.