On a trip to North Carolina, after we first moved to the present location, a visit was made to a wonderful, now defunct nursery called Herb ‘O Grace. High Tea was offered along with a beautiful mountainside herb garden for casual touring. Plants for sale were unusual and healthy. Several were purchased on multiple visits. Among those was my first heath, an unknown erica darleyensis, blooming a dark purple in late November. It was striking, with dark green needle like foliage and tiny violet red bell shaped flowers. Planted in the wrong place at the bottom of the slope it succumbed in the first year to the wet winter. But research led to an online nursery that specialized in these shrubs, Rock Spray Nursery. Shown above are three little calluna vulgaris ‘Blazeaway” purchased from them in four inch pots.
I was on the lookout now for any and all heaths and heathers, not really knowing the difference between the two. It has been learned that heathers are callunas, heaths are ericas. The needles of heathers are thicker than the heaths. Most heathers bloom in summer also. The heathers have varieties whose foliage turns different colors in summer, fall and winter. This is calluna vulgaris ‘Red Fred’. There is nothing red about it. Maybe it was mislabeled. It was purchased at a nursery nearby that had been bought out by less knowledgeable entrepreneurs than the original owners. The foliage is an attractive green, the flowers are pink, but I was looking for something to be red.
From Rock Spray were ordered four calluna vulgaris ‘Sunset“s for the knot garden. Their catalog showed pictures of fascinating colorful foliage on certain varieties. Those were incorporated into the vision. More, more more! Also in bloom above are various viola seedlings and dianthus ‘Firewitch’. Blue forget me nots are in the far corner.