Unless you are new to the Cowichan Valley, you will know that the Vancouver Island Heather Society’s annual sale is an event that is a must on the calendar of gardeners.
This year there will be a greater number and variety of plants for sale. There will be “one of a kind” varieties that are difficult to find as well as a wide selection of new and old faithful varieties. As far as the popular starter kits are concerned, there will be four different types of kits available. Each kit will include nine plants, that are designed with our planting conditions in mind, as well as a planting diagram.
Heathers are known to grow very well on Vancouver Island. They give year-round colour both from the flowers and the foliage, have wonderful ground cover qualities, are evergreen, hardy and require little maintenance, are relatively free from pests and disease and, last but not least, other than bud bloomers the flowers provide wonderful nectar loved by our native bees. Just watch your winter flowering heathers on a sunny February day and you will agree with me.
They are also plants that help to provide a wonderful landscape in your garden as they go well with, for example, spring bulbs, helloborus, pieiris japonica, rhododendron, styrax japonicus, nandina domestica, olearia and a wide variety of grasses. Take the time to drive around your area and I am sure that you will see some gardens that have used heathers very effectively in their landscape.
Before you go to the sale think about in which part of your garden you intend to plant your heathers. Remember that they will need lime-free, well-drained, well-cultivated soil, at least five to six hours of direct sun daily, will not tolerate boggy areas and need to be watered at least once a week during the summer to ensure that they do not dry out. Avoid using manures as they are too rich for these plants.
Also before you go to the sale you may wish to do your homework and go prepared by studying the website listing of both the varieties and kits that will be in the sale. The website for the Vancouver Island Heather Society is www.bcheathersociety.org.
The Vancouver Island Heather Society’s 2019 sale will take place on Saturday, March 30 at the Stu Armour Building, Cobble Hill Fairgrounds (Fisher Road). This is the same venue as last year. The sale will begin at 10 a.m. and last until noon or sold out. Experienced buyers will advise you that it is essential to get to the hall prior to the sale starting in order to get the best selection. Members of the Society will be on hand to help you make your choices and members of the Victoria Master Gardener Association will be there to answer general gardening questions. As well there will be the opportunity to take out a membership in the Society and detailed information on the growing of heathers will be available.
Elaine Scott is a member of the Vancouver Island Heather Society.