Kalmia Angustifolia or Sheep Laurel
The genus is named after the Swedish botanist Peter KaIm. It is related to the heathers and rhododendrons and has the same requirements. There are only eight species, found mostly in North America, occasionally in western India.
Sheep laurel is a 60- to 90-cm (2- to 3-ft) -high deciduous shrub of compact habit with somewhat rigid, regularly spreading branches. The leaves are stiff and glossy green. The pinkishare borne in clusters (cymes) on short stalks rising from the axils of small, thick bracts. The flowering period is from May to June, usually when later-flowering rhododendrons have almost finished. The calyx is in five parts, as is the broadly bell-shaped corolla. The five-valved ovary develops into an insignificant capsule. Also grown, in addition to the type species, is the variety ‘Rubra’ with deep pink blooms.
Sheep laurel is not easily propagated from seed, which must be sown in winter under glass, but can be raised quite well from terminal summer cuttings or byin the autumn. It should be planted in an acid , one that is light, sandy to sandy-loamy, and free from lime, preferably with the addition of peat. It requires a fair amount of moisture. In harsher and drier climates kalmia does best in partial shade. It combines well with other ericaceous plants, particularly rhododendrons, and in underplantings with heaths and heathers as well as certain creeping evergreen shrubs such as skimmia, gaultheria, and pachysandra.