Jill Colville from the Annapolis Valley (www.bunchberry nurseries.ca) charmed us all Monday June 15th with pictures of rolling hills of heather located both in Scotland and its namesake Nova Scotia (New Scotland). She spoke of heaths as well. Do you know the difference? Most heaths bloom in the spring and heathers do the same in summer. At Bunchberry Nurseries in Upper Clements, she handles 50-60 cultivars of the over 600 varieties.
Heaths have the distinction of providing the first flowers for pollinators—even earlier than crocuses! Why plant heaths and heathers? She explained that they can provide diversity, bloom from February to October with foliage that weaves a tapestry of colour.
She proved it in pictures. We saw burgundy, salmon, purple, orange, white and various shades of pink or almost red. Varieties can fit into any size garden with minimal maintenance. You can’t beat that. As a relative of the blueberry, they prefer full to half sun as well as acidic soil–perfect for Nova Scotia, right? Jill suggested companion plantings of conifers, rhododendrons and junipers, among others. Ornamental grasses, such as blue fescue, add soft texture to heather landscapes.
Jill cautioned that heathers newly planted can lose moisture in March with the hotter sun. Once wilted, they won’t recover. Be sure to keep them watered and covered with boughs. Don’t be afraid to prune them in April to sheer off last year’s flowers. She capped off her remarks by directing the members to three tables with heathers for sale. Irresistible!
Spring sprang into Chester last week, bringing with it unprecedented hot weather. For two days the mercury soared to record-breaking highs of 24° and 27°C, before backing off to 14° C and then , just as quickly, dropping to more normal readings of 4° to 7° C. Another case of Arctic oscillation?
Whatever the cause, gardeners found themselves digging out their shorts and tee-shirts and tackling the business of digging out the weeds that seemed to have sprouted overnight. A more welcome sight were the clumps of heaths (Erica carnea Springwood pink, above and below) that suddenly put forth a wealth of blossoms.
The spring-cleaning of local gardens included removing winter’s debris from lawns and beds, such as those hosting the crocus blooms in the next photo. Behind the crocuses are the emerging stalks of budding daffodils that have also been given a boost from the unusually warm weather.
Echoing the traditional Easter colours of purple and white, the crocus blooms herald the approach of Spring, seemingly unaware that it has already arrived. Chester gardeners are hoping that, this year, after its early but brief appearance Spring will soon return.
In case it has escaped the notice of readers familiar with the usual layout of this blog, a new item has been added to the menu running across the top of the screen. Information about the Chester Garden Club’s annual Flower Show and Tea , a popular summer event, can be found by clicking on the link. The information will be updated regularly as details are confirmed.
The tradition of collecting posts featuring photos of plants in bloom on the 15th of the month, from different parts of the USA, started five years ago and the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day project now attracts 126 participants from North America and abroad. The project is hosted by maydreamsgardens, which is where the garden bloggers share their posts on the 15th of each month, and where you can check out the web addresses to follow up on these posts.
As a newbie blogger back in 2010, Chester Garden Club began to follow the tradition of posting photos on the 15th but, noting that the other bloggers were either professional garden writers or had commercial interests, we have not added our site to the list. Nevertheless, today we are honouring the Bloom Day spirit by featuring a few Calluna vulgaris and Ericas that are just now beginning to show signs of life in local gardens, even if they are still surrounded by a light cover of snow.
Chester Garden Club’s next meeting will be held on February 20th, with guest speaker Logie Cassells, an enthusiastic promoter of the cultivation and varied uses of Haskap berries.