May is usually a quiet time for our heath and heather gardens. Right now the heathers (Calluna) have a forlorn look from their pruning a few weeks ago. By the end of the month their spring foliage will have grown back and they’ll be positively perky, but right now they just look awkward. The winter flowers on the heaths (Erica) have faded and are starting to turn brown. Their spring foliage is greening up, but their glory days won’t come around again until next winter.
There is one bright spot in our heather garden – a tree heath. As members of the NorthEast Heather Society we help with the annual pruning of the heather in the Fort Tryon garden in Manhattan, NYC every April. Many years ago, I gathered a few pruned stems from a tree heath (cultivar unknown) growing there. The tree heath expired several years ago, probably from the strong winds coming off the Hudson River, but a few of the cuttings I took rooted and grew. I planted one in our heath garden about five years ago. Our tree heath is now in covered in tiny white flowers. With the cooler weather we’ve had, the flowers have lasted for almost two weeks. Seeing this bright spot in the garden will carry me through until the summer blooming Ericas start in early June.