Heather on the Heights

Heather on the Heights

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!

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