Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Containers: Think outside the bulb

Early spring containers can sometimes be a challenge if you don't have or don't want to show off bulb flowers such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths.

I came across a beautiful alternative the other day:

I just love the juxtaposition of the tall, dark stemmed Pussy Willows, standing tall behind the low, bunchy, pink mounds of the Heath.

The Pussy Willow branches were simply stuck into the ground in clumps behind the Heath.

But, you might ask, am I sure the pink plant here is Heath and not Heather?

Yes, I'm sure. Though, it took me a long time to get it right!

Both Heath and Heather are part of the Ericaceae family which includes plants such as cranberry, blueberry, azalea and rhododendron. The botanical genus for Heath is Erica and Calluna for Heather.

A few of the main differences:
  • Bloom time: Heath blooms in late winter/early spring; Heather blooms midsummer through the fall
  • Leaves: Heath has distinctive single needle-like leaves; Heather has compact scale-like leaves

But for the most part, both Heaths and Heathers are nearly identical in form and growth habits, and both are evergreen, low maintenance plants.

The Heath and Pussy Willow combination could be great for a large container or even a bed that hasn't quite burst into bloom yet.


  1. Hmmmm,

    That is a really nice combination of color and heights.

  2. Hi Kate, I love this display. And it would be easy to do recreate! A similar arrangement could also be done in a garden urn-I bet it would look beautiful too.

  3. I like the look of the heath. Pussy Willow is something that we get to see every Chinese New Year. They are imported. Our weather is not suited for these beautiful plants.

  4. NOw doesn't that make such a pretty Spring bed? I love it and would never have thought of adding Pussy willow bushes like that for a Spring bed. They do make a great combination.

  5. The combination is so pretty! Thanks for linking up to Cottage Flora Thursday's - this weeks garden party link should be up later this evening!xoox,tracie

  6. hello Kate, it's a lovely combination and does make a change from the traditional bulbs, it's interesting (to me) that you reverse the common names of Heath and Heather, over here in Scotland Erica's are Heather and Culluna is the Heath that covers most of the mountains and bog peatland, just goes to show how confusing common names are, Frances

  7. Red stemmed dogwood would've looked great, too!


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