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Silver Blue Butterfly on Bell Heather

Exhibiting at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 7-12 July 2009
Stand Number: D1

HEATHERS are due for a massive boost in popularity as the British Heather Growers Association, the commercial growing arm of The Heather Society (www.heathersociety.org.uk) launches a garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (July 7 - 12) to show their all-year-round versatility.

The idea that heathers are limited to a few varieties and colours and are restricted to late season or certain soil-type planting is about to be blown out of the water.

John Hall (johnhallplants@hotmail.com) is chairman of the BGHA and has decided its time to launch heathers into the main stream and dispel the myths that limit the use of these magnificent plants once and for all. “The myth that all heathers need acid soil needs to be dispelled to encourage the re-appraisal of their use in family gardens,” says John.

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show has been chosen by the BHGA for the creation of a garden designed to demonstrate the enormous variety, versatility, beauty and practicality of heathers in a family garden.

Not only are heathers ideal for all year round flower they are an asset to the garden environment because of creatures, such as bees, which thrive on them.

A revolutionary, new, peat-free compost made from sheep’s wool and bracken will be used in the garden. Completely sustainable, eco-friendly and made in the Lake District, Dalefoot’s Wool Compost cleverly harnesses the natural properties of wool to trap water, whilst releasing a steady stream of nutrients to feed the plants over the growing season.

The compost finds a novel use for British wool - good news for struggling sheep farmers. The use of bracken in Wool Compost is also beneficial. The spread of this aggressive, waist-high plant in the Lake District makes grazing difficult and impacts upon native species. Composted it boasts high levels of natural potash.

Dalefoot who make the compost are one of a handful of specialists who spend six months of the year restoring the UK’s most protected heather moorland and peat bogs for organisations such as Natural England. They harvest and supply up to 13,000 cubic metres of heather brash and seed every year to help promote heather regeneration. www.dalefootcomposts.co.uk

The theme ‘Back to Front’ illustrates the qualities and habits of heathers throughout the year. Linking in with this theme is the contrasting colour schemes for winter and summer.

The BHGA (www.heathersociety.org.uk) garden will demonstrate in glorious design and colour how the warm tones of russets, yellows and reds predominant in the winter garden, create passion where one would expect to find coolness.
Tranquil shades of blue and whites in the summer garden introduce calm where riotous colour would be the norm.

“Heathers have many diverse, yet over-looked qualities and year-round appeal. They are colourful, low-maintenance and drought tolerant and provide wonderful ground cover as well as encouraging bio-diversity. Heathers are attractive to butterflies and other pollinating insects, in particular the Honey Bee which is currently under threat.”

The aim of the ‘Back to Front’ garden is to improve the popularity and promote these versatile yet undervalued plants.

The company responsible for the design is ‘Down to Earth Design’. (www.downtoearthdesign.co.uk), run by Claire Bryant and Jackie Edwards.

Claire and Jackie met at Greenwich University in 2006, where they had both enrolled on the degree course in Garden Design while raising their families. They set up the landscape design partnership after graduating with a BA (Hons). Both demonstrate knowledge, passion and creative flair for garden design.

Editors Notes:

The Garden Design:

A front and back garden are depicted within the design, each illustrating the qualities and habits of heathers throughout the year. The planting will consist largely of different heather species integrated into a mixed planting scheme. Many of the plants have been awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit.

A heather hedge and topiary heathers demonstrate different growing techniques and their compatibility with other shrubs and perennials. Ferns add contrasting colour and illustrate the combination of heathers with bracken in their original habitat. Grasses punctuate adding movement and height.

A path arcs through the planting and shallow steps lead down to a curved seat by a circular lawn. The heathers slope gently upward echoing the rolling moorland of their natural habitat and this sunken area allows the tapestry of the heather planting to be appreciated. A sculpture of wrapped aluminium wire adds another dimension emulating the organic forms of the heathers and giving vertical focus.

About the BHGA:

The BHGA is a group of knowledgeable, experienced and enthusiastic commercial heather growers, responsible for producing over five million finished plants for the home market. They offer a wide range of species from the dwarf Erica carnea (6inch/15cm high) up to the Tree Heaths (10feet/300cm high). Many growers are active in the hunt for new and improved varieties to further enhance the diverse range of flower and foliage colour.

BHGA members are aware of the importance their nurseries play in the survival of wildlife such as bees, butterflies and frogs.
Growing methods are geared towards a better environment and recycling practices are encouraged. Members work with nature, for nature.

For further information please contact:

John Hall, Chairman BHGA
Tel: 01428 715505
Mobile: 07714 344327
e.mail: johnhallplants@hotmail.com

Charmian Robinson
ABR Publicity
Tel: 01206 230831
Mobile: 07775 876655
e.mail: abr.publicity@virgin.net

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