Todmorden in Bloom recommends winter flowering heathers (horticultural named Erica carnea or Erica darleyensis).
They look great midwinter, are easy to grow and make good ground covering plants - reducing weed growth.
Ericas have finely coloured flowers ranging from white, through shades of pink to purples. The foliage is attractive, colourful and evergreen.
Ericas can be bought as small plants in 7cm square pots, though larger plants cost more! Heathers prefer moist, but free-draining acidic soil and a sunny position.
They are perfect in rock gardens or at the edge of flower beds.
They will need space and normally start spreading well during their second year. They rarely have diseases but can be susceptible to various fungal attacks in warm wet weather.
Winter flowering heathers respond well to watering during dry spring or summer.
All types should be lightly pruned immediately after flowering.
Simply cutting back the flowered stems will ensure compact bushy plants.
Patient gardeners can propagate these heathers from cuttings in late summer, or by dividing established clumps in early spring after flowering.
You can raise winter flowering heathers in 30cm (12”) containers filled with John Innes Ericaceous Compost.
Either plant in groups of three, or combine with dwarf grasses, small evergreen shrubs, or annuals to extend the season of interest.
Well recommended winter flowering heathers include:
l Erica carnea, Springwood White - vigorous and trailing.
l Erica carnea, White Perfection - Pure white, bright green foliage.
l Erica darleyensis, White Glow - compact and full of flowers with dark foliage.
l Erica darleyensis, Darleydale -Light pink, darkening with age, long flowering.
l Erica carnea, December Red - Pink, turning darker with age.
l Erica carnea, Springwood Pink - A good spreader with trailing stems, like its white cousin.
l Erica carnea, Vivelli - Bronze foliage with deep magenta flowers.
l Erica darleyensis, Kramers Red - Bronze foliage magenta flowers.
Most garden centres will have a range of heathers for sale, but for a bigger choice, buy from a specialist grower.
For further information please see www.gallowayheathers.com or www.heathersociety.org
Todmorden in Bloom will always welcome more helpers. For more information please phone Norman on 01706 812205 or Jean on 01706 817492 or see our website at www.todmordeninbloom.com