Spring Heath: Gorgeous Flowers with Minimal Effort
The urn-shaped blossoms of spring heath are astonishingly beautiful in their own right
Easy on the eyes, and even easier to care for, it's lucky that spring heath feels at home in the soils of British Columbia
The charming spring heath (Erica carnea) asks little save sunshine most of the day, a good drink during summer dry spells and a quick trim when it has finished blooming.
In return it gives flowers for months, pollen and nectar with which industrious mason bees provision their nests, dense growth that smothers all but the most aggressive weeds, and neat needle-like leaves year ‘round.
Heath as a habitat has been mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Enjoying your heaths will not necessarily make you a heathen, but folk so described were originally dwellers on the heath.
The word heath itself traces its roots back over 1,000 years to Anglo-Saxon, Old High German and Old Norse. Heath gives its name to its plant family (Ericaceae), one of the first plant families to evolve a corolla of fused (rather than separate) petals.
Since bumblebees don’t fit inside these tiny, urn-shaped blossoms, they bumble around outside and accomplish “buzz pollination.” Best of all, heaths are right at home in the acidic soils of coastal British Columbia.