Calluna – Popular Shrubs for the Garden
Calluna vulgaris, the single species in the genus, is the common Heather or Ling, that makes so many of our hills and moors colourful from late summer to autumn. In the wild the plant has purplish-pink, but it is so variable that nurserymen specializing in heathers may list up to fifty different kinds, varying in height from 3-4 inches to 2 feet and showing great colour variation, both in flowers and foliage.
Some have double flowers and the best of these is ‘H. E. Beale’, flowering late, growing to about 2 feet, with tall spikes of rosy-pink flowers. If a dwarf double is required then it can be found in ‘J. H. Hamilton’, about 9 inches tall, with pink flowers.
The variety searlei has fine white flowers and there is a variety of this with golden leaves, called searlei aurea. Calluna vulgaris aurea is another golden-leaved form, not so tall. In Calluna v. argentea, the young growths are silvery. Calluna v. nana is one of the lowest growing, with purple flowers.
These callunas must have lime-freeand they do best where the soil is dry and the position open and sunny. Plant them fairly closely together in drifts or clumps so that they grow together to make a continuous mat, to keep down weeds. A light clip over with shears after flowering will encourage new growth to form, and keep the plants neat and compact.