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The Heather in Lore, Lyric and Lay
Varieties of the Heather


THERE are quite a number of different varieties of the Heather cultivated in gardens, and when planted in suitable spots they provide in their season, in the beauty of their blossoming, a source of infinite delight. Beds may be so placed that they remain very beautiful for a long period. In the foreground of collections of large-growing Ericaceous plants, the Heather finds an ideal spot. The vigorous growing kinds furnish an added charm to woodland scenery, and all of them, the smaller growing forms especially, make excellent rockwork plants.

The variety alba, or common "White Heather," is a counterpart of the type, except in color. Another white variety is named Tenuis alba; it flowers early, and forms a freely-branched, slender specimen. Other kinds that bear white blossoms are: Searlei, which flowers till late in the season; this is a strong growing variety. Rigida alba has a spreading style of growth, and its spikes of flowers are unusually large. Pilosa, or pubescens, produces very fine spikes of blossoms, a marked feature of the variety being the pubescent character of the foliage. Pumila alba is a low-growing white variety, smaller than any of the foregoing.

A very pretty white variety is C. vulgaris alba var. Hammondii, of which a photograph is given herewith.

A comparatively new variety of white Heather, named Calluna vulgaris var. gracilis, was recently shown at the exhibition of the. Caledonian Horticultural Society in Edinburgh. It remains in bloom considerably longer than the common C. vulgaris aiba. His Majesty King Edward VII. was pleased to accept plants of this white Heather for his gardens at Sandringham.

A writer in a recent number of "The Gardeners' Chronicle" says: "There is a popular superstition that it is lucky to find a spray of white Heather. I have always supposed that a plant bearing white flowers was a true variety, and would always bear white flowers. My daughter, who has lately returned from the south of France, has brought me a branch of the purple Heather, Erica cinerea, which has on it two spikes of flowers—one entirely white, the other entirely purple. It appears, therefore, that both may grow on the same plant. She tells me that the French people believe that the Heather bears white flowers when it grows old."

Among the colored-flowered kinds are: Aiporti, a strong grower, which bears rich purple blossoms till late in the autumn; Florepleno, which has blossoms of the normal color, but double, something uncommon among members of the Heath family; Coccinea, the blossoms of which are very bright, as are those of Dumosa rubra; Tenuis, the flowers of which are more of a scarlet tint, very bright and attractive. There are several the distinctive features of which lie in differences of foliage and habit rather than in blossom. Among these may be mentioned Aurea, with foliage of a beautiful golden hue, and Cuprea, that in full sunshine deepens to a kind of coppery orange. Pygma forms a dense, dark green hemispherical tuft, suggesting almost relationship to the moss family. The variety Variegata has white leaves interspersed with the normal green ones.


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