Thursday, August 16, 2012

Heather and Conifer

Someone asked me recently if I had bought any plants at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show last month and I replied I had bought only a few, including a heather and a conifer. He thought I was joking.

I wasn't. I really bought a heather and a conifer (and yes only a few plants, ran out of time to pick up some more). And very nice ones too.

Heather and conifer for an exotic gardening enthusiast? Of course! and why not? Exotic gardening is a broad and relative term (mainly depending where you are in the world, an exotic plant to some may not be to another) and covers all sorts of plants, not just your stereotypical cannas and bananas associated with the humid tropics, nor agaves with the deserts. 

And that includes heathers and conifers, especially if they originate from another part of the world, and a plus point too if they look unusual. 

So what heather and conifer did I buy?

The heather is Erica cerinthoides, the Fire Heath and is a native plant of South Africa. I got a couple of small plants from the sales table of Trewidden Nursery, of which they also had a bigger plant on display at their gold medal winning floral stand. I was instantly attracted to the intense, almost fluorescent orange colour of the flowers, as well as its beautiful and tactile foliage. Loved everything about it really so I thought it's worth a try. I was meaning to plant them in one of the raised beds but I'm not sure if I ought to now. The spot I was intending on putting it is not ready yet and its getting quite late in the season to possibly plant it. I may have to wait till next year.


Erica cerinthoides
Erica cerinthoides
I'm pleased to see though that even as a small plant it's already in bloom!


Erica cerinthoides
The conifer is Sciadopitys verticillata or the Japanese Umbrella Pine which I bought from the stand of Larchfield Trees. It is a native plant of, you guessed it right, Japan! It is also very slow growing, with the one I go already 6 years old, grown from seed. A test of patience if you decide to cultivate one from seed (but neither is it the slowest plant from seed I have ever come across with).


Sciadopitys verticillata
Sciadopitys verticillata - the photo doesn't do it justice and have found it difficult to take photos of, with our camera anyway
It's a conifer with a graceful and elegant habit, and very tactile too with its soft needles which I can't help but caress every time I hold it. And being so slow growing it is a perfect candidate for pot culture.


Sciadopitys verticillata
I think it'll look great in a glazed pot, don't you think so?

Mark :-)

12 comments:

  1. When I saw the post title, I thought, 'What the...?'. But I can see why your head was turned by the heather. Stunning form, size and colour. And that conifer isn't at all what I was expecting. Perhaps I have a very narrow view of what conifers are, and they are no where near the top of my list. However, it will fit in well in your garden ...and a glazed pot sounds perfect.

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  2. Great plant choices! There are a few not hardy Heathers that I find myself lusting after every year at a NWFG Show in Seattle, I've yet to take the plunge but think about it every spring! Even the foliage on yours looks spectacular.

    Now for that Sciadopitys verticillata I LOVE it! My desire to own it was satiated When I bought it for a good friend for her birthday. Now I get to visit it in her garden. Please don't show yours too often or I might just find myself dreaming about one in a container.

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  3. Oh you picked my two favorite things I think. I love Heather/Heath and conifers. Can't wait to see where you put them. Watch out for that Heather, you'll be desiring more of them.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  4. Hi Hazel, they both don't look like your usual heather and conifer, which is part of the attraction for me. They're both so tactile too!

    Loree, glad you liked them as well! Still thinking what colour of glazed pot to put the Sciadopitys in, well definitely tempt you more in the future :)

    Cher, I won't be surprised if that's the case, especially tactile ones like them two!

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  5. Proof that one should never write off whole groups of plants - and that you don't need to plant boring examples of either group! Love that conifer, in particular, really pretty. I speak as someone who has just dug up her third, a stiff yellow example of everything that is bad about them in the garden!!

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  6. That heather is absolutely gorgeous. Such big flowers on such a tiny plant... :)

    And you are so right about how relative "exotic" plant choices are. I, for my part, find even "regular" species of heather very classy, if not exotic, even if only because no one around here appears to grow any. My little purple Erica carnea might be the only heather I have ever seen in the Midwest, and in New England, too, they are pretty uncommon.

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  7. Hi Janet, its so true that you should explore plant groups and look for the unusual.

    CG its lovely isnt it, and still so small.

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  8. Your plant choces are lovely! Sciadopitys verticillata is a favorite of mine, I've one that has been in the ground for about seven years and it's about three feet tall. Your idea of growing it in a pot has me thinking of digging mine up. Heather is beautiful!

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  9. The Heather is indeed unusual, even in the land of Heather I am not so sure if this one would be at home here, I would like to try it though. What about that Sciadopitys verticillata, such an interesting little conifer.

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  10. Both delightful selections. Never would have guessed it was an Erica. As for the Sciadopitys, is it the species or a specific cultivar? I like the pot idea if its one of the dwarf selections, but if not..... I have a friend who has had one for close to 15 years and his is close to 25'! This is Zone 5 we're talking! Just giving you something to ponder friend!

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  11. I love Sciadopytis although I recently saw a golden version which just looked sick! The green-leaved species is a handsome plant. Some years ago, when at Reading University I planted one and was thrilled when it reached 2m. You can imagine my anger when it was cut down for a Christmas tree one year by some ignorant yob! Good job I never discovered who did it!

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  12. Well those are certainly beyond worthwhile plants! I adore that heather, I wish they'd grow here!

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