Heaths and Heathers in the Pacific Northwest

I love living here on the southern coast of British Columbia. Our winters are very mild with rarely a snowfall that stays more than a day. As I sit here it is raining and that is what the west coast is known for in winter. The rain is why our  trees are so tall and our gardens so lush. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. One thing I do enjoy is not being buried beneath so much snow at this time of year. I can’t imagine going months without being in the garden.

winter colour in BC

We were out for a walk a few days ago showing our town to out-of-town guests. I took them over to our ‘Forest for the Future’ which is located near our hospital. It’s a beautifully designed garden with plaques displaying our community history. It was built for our residents as a place of relaxation and tranquility.  I loved seeing the Heaths out in full bloom. To see colour at this time of year makes you think spring, doesn’t it?

Winter Colour in the Pacific Northwest

The Heathers and Heaths grow well in our climate. They don’t mind our acidic soils and west coast climate. This plant not only has brilliant blooms in all different colours, it also has great foliage. You can buy the Calluna or Heathers for late summer to fall blooms or the Ericas or Heaths for spring or winter blooms. When I  look for plants I choose them for their foliage. The flowers are a bonus. For me, having great foliage comes first in the garden.

Heather -Calluna vulgaris

To compare the difference I have posted one of my Heathers above and a quick glance at the foliage will show the difference between the two plants. What I like about some of the plants is their foliage changes colour with the seasons. The one above changes to an orange tinged leaf in late fall.

Spring Tour of Vandusen Gardens

If you are looking for a great selection of Heathers and Heaths, the best place to go is VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Look at their Heather garden. It’s so beautiful! Going to gardens like this lets us see just how large a plant will grow and what it looks like in the different seasons. What I like is that the plants are labelled to make your selection easier.

Spring Tour of Vandusen Gardens

I took this photo at VanDusen Garden last year. Imagine a river of colour like this. Many of us don’t have the room for a garden this large but it  shows how a mass planting has such visual impact. If you are planting Heathers or Heaths, do it in groupings of three to five plants and repeat it in other parts of the garden. You will be rewarded with colour in seasons when you least expect it.

4 thoughts on “Heaths and Heathers in the Pacific Northwest

  1. Not far from where I live are the Colorado State University trial gardens. Once I discovered them I try to make the pilgrimage every year for the same reasons you mentioned. Lovely pics and going to see if any varieties will feel at home where I live! Thanks. 🙂

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