Today has been bitterly cold, the temperatures have struggled to get above zero all day, a perfect day to look back over some of the plant images that I took for the blogt last week at RHS Harlow Carr.
One of the glories of Harlow Carr is the winter garden; which in late winter and early spring is a carpet of colour.
The star of the winter garden this week was the ever so humble Erica carnea or winter heath.
Coming from the Alpine slopes of Northern Italy it is no stranger to the cold, shrugging off the worst of the weather and brightening many a gardeners heart over the dark winter months.
This particular one was not labelled but looks as if it may be ‘Rosalie’ or maybe ‘Pink Sparles’ however the more upright growth suggests it may also be one of the more modern cultivars – but whatever its name – just look at how wonderful such a humble little plant can be.
Its natural beauty being a far cry from those wretched spray painted creatures sold in supermarkets, and with a heavy heart I have to say this, Garden Centres.
Why anyone would want to spray paint such a glorious winter beauty is beyond me.
There are so many colours that nature (with a helping hand from the plant breeder) has given us; ranging from the whites of ‘Winter Snow’ through to delicate hues of ‘Pink Spangles and on to ‘Nathalie’ with her lovely red flowers.
However it is the delicate pinks that always do it for me.
You can keep your golden foliage, which so often to me looks as if the plant is hungry, all I ask for is a sea of pink flowers catching the weak winter sun, and I am transported lost in love and awe at these humble little flowers.
However cold and soggy the ground may be, I find myself on one knee, with camera in hand and before you know it bliss (and muddy knees).
As you get close, you start to really appreciate the delicate intricacies of these gorgeous winter flowers, with their soft needle like foliage and sometimes you are lucky enough to spot a brave and fearless bee, on warmer drier days.
Simple to care for in the garden or container, with their only fussiness being the need for acidic soil, they repay a little care and feeding with incredible generosity. The Heather Society website warns not to prune too hard and also to prune early in the year as the new flower buds are made in way ahead of winter in June, to be kept through the hot summer months, to open and flower on the cold and frosty days of a Yorkshire winter.