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Reviving the hardy heathers; top tips WITH RICHARD EVANS OF SNOWDONIA NURSERIES.

THE heather has diminshed in popularity in recent years. It enjoyed a boom in the 1970s as a proliferation of low maintenance heather and conifer gardens were championed by Alan and Adrian Bloom. But tastes change and it's now overshadowed by sexier, hardy perennials.

But as we count the cost of two severe winters it's worth reviving hardy heathers and conifers to use in a more inclusive manner.

Mix them with other shrubs and perennials, use them as a low hedge or border, or plant in containers.

Heathers are a group of at least three genera of heath plants, Erica, Daboecia and Calluna, and including a variety of species and cultivars with a remarkable range in flower and foliage colour and habit.

Winter flowering varieties include Erica Carnea, Erica X Darleyensis and Erica Erigena. They have a long flowering period in the darkest winter months and, being lime tolerant, will grow almost anywhere.

They can also be used in tubs, window boxes and hanging baskets. Kramer's Red, Nathalie and Furzey are good red/purple varieties, while Ice Princess, Springwood White and Silberschmelze are good white varieties. They are useful ground cover or as a low hedge, needing just an annual trim after flowering to maintain a bushy habit.

Summer flowering heathers include Bell Heather, Ling and St. Daboec's Heath.

This group is not lime tolerant and needs a neutral to acid soil for success.

If your soil is limey you can still grow these types either in containers or raised beds filled with lime free ericaceous compost.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2011
Words:257
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