To demonstrate varieties of heathers that are suitable for this climate.
Most heathers prefer full sun, but some (Erica carnea and Daboecia, for example) will flower well in partial shade. In this garden, shade-tolerant varieties are planted near the second-growth Douglas-fir forest to the west of the garden. All plants require careful watering when young. Heathers are no exception.
Moderate watering must continue after they become established. Mature Daboecia are the most tolerant of dry conditions, but no heather can really be classified as drought tolerant. The original silty marine clay soil has been modified with sand and organic matter to provide the acid soil and proper drainage required by heathers. The soil acidity target is pH5. In less acid (higher numerical value) than this, the species Calluna vulgaris does poorly although some Ericas grow well.
The upper bed is comprised entirely of Erica species with flowering periods through most of the year. Winter/spring color comes from Erica carnea and Erica x darleyensis. The latter are among the largest and most often seen heathers with flowering periods extending to 5 months in some cases. Summer color comes from Erica species, Daboecia and above all, from Calluna vulgaris. The latter only flower in August but some varieties contribute strong foliage colors for the whole year.
It is unlikely that gardeners would want to emulate this planting arrangement. It is best regarded as a reference collection. As a general guideline, it is recommended that summer-blooming heathers be grouped into one area of an urban garden. Winter/spring-flowering varieties can be dispersed to complement dwarf evergreen shrubs for example. The incorporation of grasses can be very effective in providing delightful motion to an otherwise fairly static heather garden.
There are heather species reaching 2 meters in height and these can provide useful elevation to complement the more common lower growing species. However, gardeners contemplating using the taller heathers (sometimes referred to as “tree heaths”) should note that they need shelter from strong winds. The lack of shelter from wind is why the Glendale heather garden contains so few examples of tree heaths.
Peak flower colors for heathers grown in this garden occur in March, April, July and August. Planning a visit at these times is particularly rewarding although heather gardens in general offer interest throughout the year. It is this latter feature that attracts many gardeners to incorporate heathers in their own landscapes.
This garden was first planted in 1988. The initial project was supported by the North American Heather Society and was part of its effort to establish gardens throughout the United States and Canada. In Canada, display beds were installed at what are now the Glendale Gardens of the HCP, the University of British Columbia, and VanDusen Gardens.
Following a period of minimum maintenance, partial renovations were made from 1996 through 1998. The most recent renovations were started in 2001 and are still in progress.
An annual plant sale is held every March.