Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day brings great hope and optimism to a country....This Erica brings a small spot of cheer to a barren landscape

You have to love this plant. We have had a lot of cold weather this winter and it hasn't fazed Erica x darleyensis 'Darley Dale' in the least. Evergreen and cheerfully flowering it is a small spot of color in a brown and grey landscape. This plant is about 10 years old and its about 3 feet in diameter and a foot and a half tall. Buds showing color have been present at least since Thanksgiving and flowers have been open for a month at least. It will look good into mid-spring.

Darley Dale is a hybrid between Erica carnea and Erica erigena that originated in a nursery in Derbyshine, England around the beginning of the last century. My experience has shown it to be a much tougher plant then the many selections of E. carnea. It is a plant that I use extensively in designs both for its out of season appeal and its compact evergreen growth. It is somewhat particular in its requirements, needing more than half a day of sun and absolutely requiring well drained soil. Wet clay will cause this plant to languish and then die. Most nursery grown plants (that means almost all the plants you are likely to encounter) will be container grown in a light mix and are used to regular watering. The plant pictured, and remember it is 10 years old, is growing in pure sand and gravel and rarely gets watered even during droughts. The trick is transitioning between that spoiled container and the self-reliant garden stalwart. Well......water regularly during the first summer but try not towater until the soil is bone dry. I know that's not always an easy judgement but its worth the effort.

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