You can have a fun bud-blooming time this winter

By Steve Smith

First off, I suspect you would like an explanation of what the heck is a “bud-blooming” heather: It is a type of Calluna (a commonly planted summer-blooming heather that is in many of our gardens) whose buds never fully open but still manage to show color – often for months during the fall and into early winter. These types of heathers will look fresh for months and fill a gap as summer-blooming heathers fade and before winter heathers start to show color.

They make great additions to container plantings or incorporated into our landscapes – they are also easy to grow, provided they have good drainage.

Bud-blooming heathers are used throughout Europe to decorate grave sites in the fall (over 90 million are sold annually in Germany alone). Up until recently, varieties were not winter hardy and would turn brown after the first hard frost. German plant breeder Kurt Kramer saw the need to develop hardy varieties. He started to bring new crosses that displayed the long-blooming color of the bud-blooming varieties with the addition of colorful foliage. These new varieties will easily withstand any minimum temperatures that our Northwest winters might usher in.

Most of these bud-bloomers are compact and only grow 12- to 16-inches tall and a bit wider as they mature. Like all heathers, a good shearing in the spring after they bloom will keep them tidier and produce a more uniform-looking plant. Flower colors range from white to shades of pink and probably the most alluring feature is the incredible variations in foliage – from blackish-green to shades of yellow, orange, or red and even silver. The colors grow even richer as temperatures drop.

Of all the new varieties, I like “The Garden Girls”. Names like Zeta, Zalina, Zulu, Zilly, Golden Angie, Claire and Amethyst are all varieties with colorful foliage. Others have developed varieties called “Beauty Ladies” and “Sea Star.”

While these new heathers will help fill a gap in the transitional time between summer and winter, I think the single-most creative application of these plants is when they are used in containers in combination with other hardy perennials, such as Euphorbia “Ascot Rainbow” or any of the sedges like the newer “Ribbon Falls” or “Fountain Falls” or even the old standard “Orange Sedge”. For the ultimate in simplicity, you can even find multiple varieties planted in the same 4-inch pot where all you need to do is plop it into an attractive ceramic pot for a perfect front porch accent.

There is a fairly short window of opportunity to find these new gems in the garden center,

Steve Smith owns Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

Courtesy Photo 
                                A fall container with heather.
                                Garden Girls mix heather.

Courtesy Photo A fall container with heather. Garden Girls mix heather.

Courtesy Photo A fall container with heather. Garden Girls mix heather.

More in Business

Dozens of restaurants, bars try to stay afloat during ban by offering take-out in Arlington, Marysville

Editor’s note: As a public service, the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times… Continue reading

Bees on a delphium. (Courtesy Photos)
Bee all you can be to help these very important insects survive

By Steve Smith Unless you have been living under a rock, you… Continue reading

Arin Losier serves a beer at the new Woody’s bar in Marysville. (Steve Powell/Staff Photo)
Fanny’s opens bar in Marysville, but Woody’s already closes due to virus shutdown by Inslee

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – It might have been the shortest… Continue reading

Courtesy Photo
                                Colorful carrots are fun to grow.
Veggies taste so much better when you grow your own

Last week I mentioned that it was time to plant your “cool… Continue reading

Food bank volunteers still can connect with customers. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville Food Bank more like a regular grocery store

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – In an effort to lessen the… Continue reading

Legislative briefly

Bill helps timber over carbon emissions

Find your safe place in your own garden

By Steve Smith Sometimes I feel like the world is spinning out… Continue reading

One of the buildings at the new Villas of Arlington. (Courtesy Photo)
New Arlington apartments offer sliding scale for affordability

SMOKEY POINT – The Villas at Arlington are opening. They offer 312… Continue reading

Winter Passion wallflower.
Take a wallflower for a dance in your garden

By Steve Smith When I think of the word “wallflower” or “shrinking… Continue reading

Life’s a holiday on Primrose Lane

By Steve Smith There is no doubt that spring has sprung. This… Continue reading

Be sure to be kissed by a rose by growing them correctly

By Steve Smith It’s that time of year when garden centers fill… Continue reading

Vote for your favorites in Marysville and Arlington

What are some of your favorite places in Marysville and Arlington? Through… Continue reading