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THE HEATHER SOCIETY

Affiliated Societies: Nederlandse Heidervereniging ‘Ericultura’ Gesellschaft der Heiderfreunde North American Heather Society President: Mr D. McCLINTOCK, T.D., F.L.S.

Vice-Presidents:

Mrs C. I. MacLEOD Mrs D. METHENY Chairman: Maj.-Gen. P. G. TURPIN, C.B., O.B.E. Secretary: Mrs P. B. LEE Treasurer: Mr D. B. OLIVER Council: Mr A. R. COLLINS Mr D. J. T. MAYNE Mr D. M. EDGE Mr H. L. NICHOLSON, M.B.E. Mrs D. EVERETT Mr D. H. E. ROPE Mr A. HALL Mr D. J. SMALL Mr A. W. JONES Mr A. J. STOW Mrs D.H. JONES, J.P. Mr G. P. VICKERS

Mr P. L. JOYNER Administrator: Mrs A. SMALL, Denbeigh, All Saints Road, Creeting St Mary, Ipswich Suffolk IP6 8PJ Editors: Bulletin: Mrs D. EVERETT, Greenacres Nursery, Bringsty, Worcester WR6 STA Year Book:Mr A. W. JONES, Otters’ Court, West Camel, Somerset BA22 7QF Registrar: Mr D. McCLINTOCK, Bracken Hill, Platt, Sevenoaks, Kent TN15 8JH Slide Librarian: Mr D. J. SMALL, Denbeigh, All Saints Road, Creeting St Mary, Ipswich, Suffolk IP6 8PJ

Contents Volume 3, No. 9 ISSN 0440-5757

EDIFORIAL ic.c ee ee i Se te ne ea cantecan ee tes 3 THE PRESIDENT WRITES. David McClintock.....0............c.cc000-++ 4 FROM THE CHAIRMAN - May.-Gen. P. G. Turpim...........:....0000 5 ANNUAL CONFERENCE - SPARSHOLT COLLEGE,

WINCHESTER, SEPTEMBER 1990 - Pamela B. Lee................ 6 THE TWO HEATHERS IN CYPRUS -

David MceClintocksis2 iti 22 Bee 2a eae eee ne 11 ONCE MORE ‘AMAZING! - H. M. J. Blum woe eeeececesceeeeeeee 15 WHO WAS “OUR MR RICHARD POTTER’? -

David: McClintock ()..2..) 22 OE Va SEES eee A ee ee 17 BAD COMPANIONS - A. W. JONG wuvccccccsescccscscscsssescssssssescesscessseseeees 19 PRESSING PLANTS - David McClintock wicececcccscsescscsscscsssssseeee 20 BOOK REVIEWS 22

HEATHER IN ENGLAND AND WALES. T. A. Julian............

HEATHS & HEATHERS . A. W. JOMeS wovcieccccccscsccsscscsssssseseseesees ANOTHER PLANT OF Erica x williamsii 2

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SOME OF THE STORY OF THE Erica vagans GROUP A] -David) McClintock... 252.3 ete 8 oe 0B ool cces esters ere eae

CULTIVARS OF THE Enica manipuliflora GROUP 29 TAA WE TOMES HE BRE sc disccssssedsosecoecscbecosasschssecsises/aeate Stet ee en ee ena ERICA SCOPARIA var MACROSPERMA, An Updating......... 33 “Davids MCC@IMIOCK 0). cic cccscjscosdssorsesscesncasessssss a ee NEW:ACOUISIRIONS - J) Platt ..ccccccctsssccsssscscse eee ee 34 CULTIVARS REGISTERED DURING 1990 uu cscs 38 “PRO MREGISUAT io oo ee as eed ae eer . PERSONAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES FOR HEATHERS, 10th SUPPLEMENT - David McClintock........ 39 RECENT WRITING ON HEATHERG........cccccccscsssscscesscssssseees 4] NURSERYMEN MEMBERS )2 32 cncco sire ee 48 LOCAL ORGANISERS). 2325 2 Se ae 53 COMMITTEE MEMBERS ice ee cc ee 54

Printed by Yeoprint,

3 Limber Road, Lufton Trading Estate, Yeovil, Somerset. Telephone Yeovil (0935) 26009

YEAR BOOK 1991 Editorial

On a previous occasion I wrote that one of the nicest things about the Editor’s job was the letters one receives. Some arrive out of the blue, while others are the results of queries I have addressed to the writers. Over the years I have built up a number of long standing, if somewhat irregular, correspondences.

Iam always delighted by the store of knowledge and wis- dom which resides within the membership of the Society. The letters usually convey enthusiasm, and a willingness to share experiences or information. Some reveal an innova- tive, or experimental trait, often in people whose years would have one believe that they had long ago lost the adventurous spirit of their youth.

These thoughts were brought back to me recently by the arrival of one of Anne Parris’s letters from Australia. It was dated 12th January 1991, and in part of it she discussed the flowering times of some of her European heathers in Vic- toria. Evidently, Daboecia never really goes out of bloom. Erica manipuliflora, E. vagans and E. x watsonii ‘Dawn’ were all just coming into flower. She also enclosed some material of an un-named clone of E. x darleyensis, which was carrying buds at a stage which I judged to be equivalent to those in August or September here.

Perhaps her observations on Daboecia are not very sur- prising, since in the milder parts of these islands it can be in flower by April, and remain so until the first severe frosts. Similarly, there are many herbarium specimens of E. manipuliflora, picked in flower in its Mediterranean home during the winter months. But who has seen E. vagans or E. x watsonii in bloom in January in Europe?

This raises the questions in my mind, how long do these imported plants take to establish their new flowering times once they have become established in their Antipodean homes?, and do Cape Heaths, and indeed other genera behave in the same way?

THE HEATHER SOCIETY

The President Writes David McClintock, Platt, Kent

As only too often happens, a plea in print produces little or no response. So it has been with the need for more than a small handful of members to contribute to the Bulletin or Year Book. And it applies to the even more urgent need for support in the RHS competitions, where it is they and not we who provide the prizes. As it is, it must appear as though we disdain this important sponsor.

The first main competition of the year is in February, at the time of the AGM of the RHS, when nurserymen make a special effort to stage a good display, and there is a keen attendance. The other is at the August Show, when also our Council and Committees meet and their members have to come up. But at other Shows there are classes for heathers, eg for foliage in the last one of the year. The RHS will send you details of these on request.

How miserably these competitions have been supported was shown up glaringly in August. Were it not for the brave effort of Mrs Chapman, there would have been NOTHING in any of the 12 classes. It was bad luck for her that immediately opposite was the finest display of heathers I have ever seen, from the Wisley collection. Dozens of them in quantity in suberb condition. It highlighted how poorly we were taking advantage of the RHS offering us the space and the awards; and it was not nice to hear officials saying so. This neglect contrasts so markedly with the response from other specialist Societies. Realise too that we have had no Society stand for some time to help show the flag.

I know the difficulties, but not long ago we did make a reasonable showing by various members. So, please mark your new diaries, starting with February 18th, and find ways of getting some of your heathers into the hall. Tell us what help would make this easier, eg by combining with another exhibitor or member to bring the heathers up.

I trust that, this time, I do not write for blind eyes or deaf ears. It matters.

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YEAR BOOK 1991

From The Chairman

Mayj.-Gen. P. G. Turpin, C.B., O.B.E., West a Clandon, Surrey

Not much has been written in the Year Book about the flowering time of heathers. When the many advantages of growing heathers are listed, few writers refer to the very long flowering period that most species of heather enjoy. From my own experience I have no hesitation in picking Erica lusitanica, the Portuguese Heath, as having the longest flowering period not only of any heather but almost of any other shrub. It is sometimes in flower as early as the end of September and is usually still flowering at the time of the Chelsea Flower Show towards the end of May. This is a span of more than seven months, including the coldest part of the year, when some of the flowers suffer a temporary set- back, but rapidly recover. Compare this with the five or six weeks of flower that other shrubs, such as lilac, azalea or witch hazel give us.

Cultivars of Daboecia also have a long flowering season. I have a plant from Connemara, which is nearly always in flower before the end of April and continues until the end of November, if there are no early frosts.

Erica cinerea, and E. tetralix also flower almost con- tinuously throughout the summer, starting in May, and in favourable years continuing into October or November.

Calluna does not have quite as long a season, because most cultivars do not come into flower before the end of July and remain in flower for a comparatively short time. But their time of flowering is very variable and by planting selected cultivars, it is possible to have them in flower from June, with “Tenuis’ and ‘Caerketton White’ until the end of

November with ‘Heimalis’, ‘E. F. Brown’, ‘Autumn Glow and ‘Johnson’s Variety’.

THE HEATHER SOCIETY

The actual time of flowering depends on a number of factors, in particular the weather, and may vary by as much as four or five weeks from year to year or place to place. This has been noticeable in the last two summers, when some species have flowered earlier than usual and others have been delayed by the dry conditions.

Attempts to distinguish very similar cultivars simply by their time of flowering have not proved very reliable, as such comparisons can be so easily upset by the conditions under which plants have been grown.

I am told that E. cinerea ‘Contrast’ flowers three weeks earlier than ‘Velvet Night’, two cultivars which are otherwise almost indistinguishable. But even when grown side by side this difference is not always apparent. I believe that the same is true of Calluna ‘Alportii’ and “Alportii Praecox’, but I have not put them to the test.

So, when we are distinguishing between two cultivars, it is always safer to look for some other more reliable dif- ference than the time of flowering, such as habit of growth or colour of foliage. If there is no other clear distinction, it is questionable whether any difference between the cultivars should be recognised.

Annual Conference - Sparsholt College, Winchester, September 1990

Pamela B. Lee, Grayshott, Surrey

My 20th Conference involved only a short journey to Sparsholt College, isolated on a hilltop just outside Winchester. Early arrivals, bemused by the complex geography of the many buildings, and by crowds of NAFAS ladies departing with their floral displays, were properly orientated once our Organiser, Phil Joyner, with his Recep- tion Committee took charge. We were to be 58 in residence, with a further dozen members joining us on a daily basis. I was delighted that we were to welcome many who were attending their first Conference.

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For the first time we came across ‘Student Accomodation Security’, requiring us to key-in the approp- riate confidential number to gain access to our rooms. I ‘finally managed to remember mine by Sunday evening.

After dinner on Friday evening, in a dining room furnished attractively with small tables, each with a floral centrepiece provided by members, we proceeded to the excellent Conference hall. At the back there were tables to exhibit things of possible interest, and the Society items that our Administrator had for sale. There was hardly time to greet all our old friends and meet newcomers before the Chairman, Maj.-Gen. P. G. Turpin, officially opened the Conference and introduced the first speaker, Mr Brian Kidd.

He wore a dinner jacket, in the fashion of the entertainer he most certainly was. With a deadpan face and South Hampshire drawl, he proceeded to tell very fluently of his early experiences as a ‘garden boy’ and later an appren- tice.Eventually he rose to hold various posts in the Parks Department, the most complex being that of ‘Principle Technical Officer in Field Work’ at the Leisure Services Department of Lee Park. He is now a member of Radio Solent’s ‘Topsoil’ team.

Sparkling sunshine on Saturday morning set the weather pattern for the weekend: no wind and not too hot. Bob Dennis, Head of Horticulture at the College, told us that we were the first specialist plant society to hold a residential meeting here. He was fond of heathers, his interest having been aroused while he lived near Ness Gardens. He told us that although Sparsholt, at 400 ft above sea level, enjoyed splendid views, the soil could not be worse: heavy clay containing large flints. When choosing the site, H. M. Inspector said that it would be a good challenge for the students! It is one of 36 County Colleges of Agriculture and Horticulture in England and Wales, many of them also having started life as simply agricultural colleges. The first building was erected in 1921, and commercial horticulture was only gradually introduced. It

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was not until the 1960’s that instruction was begun on ornamental horticulture. Nowadays most colleges are diver- sifying to include inter alia courses in fish and deer farming, beekeeping, and floristry. Sparsholt offers six full- time, and a number of sandwich courses.

After coffee, members were given a choice of activity. About two thirds elected to tour the college and were shown, amongst other things, the very latest types of very expensive ‘poly’ tunnels which have replaced the large acreage of glasshouses demolished in the great storms of 1987 and 1990. The rest of us remained in the hall for a most enter- taining and instructive ‘audience participation quiz’. Questions were posed while colour slides of flowers and trees were projected. The programme on plant identifica- tion was conducted in a good-humoured and affable way by the very professional Mr Robert Lawrence.

The afternoon too provided a choice of visits and Phil Joyner ensured that we all boarded the right coach. The first one set off for the New Forest (by the ‘scenic’ route, so as to avoid traffic generated by the Romsey Festival). First stop was Matley Wood, where we were met by Bob Bowman, BSBI Recorder for the vice-county of Hampshire. A few people soon mastered the technique of communicating with our deaf guide as he led us to the first of the two still known sites for E. ciliaris in the Forest. The healthy clump was well examined and photographed. After an unsuccessful search in the boggy area for hybrids, the coach was reboarded for a visit to the second site at Scrape Bottom, Wilversley: a single much smaller plant. David McClintock then led us up a slope to see the unique site in this country of Myrica pensylvanica. As we returned to Sparsholt, the views from the coach were beautiful and it was good to see the ponies this year looking healthy once again.

Meanwhile, members on the other coach were visiting Beryl Farrah’s superb heather garden at Highcliffe. This gold and silver garden with all year round interest, was created by Ken Farrah and has been so well maintained

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YEAR BOOK 1991

with such loving care since his death, that it has matured in just the way he would have wished. A much photographed garden, it was meant to be featured in the BBC’s series The World of Flowers, and in 1986 won the ‘Best Design’ section in Christchurch’s Garden of the Year competition. Special trees including Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’ and Robinia pseudacacia ‘Frisia’, and well-clipped variegated hollies form a framework for the heathers, which are further set off by a small immaculate lawn. At the front of the house there is much of interest, including recent plantings.

The next stop for this group was a visit to Myrtle Sivyer’s general interest garden at The Gate House, Wootton Heath. This had been created almost instantly two years earlier - rather like a Chelsea exhibit: and why not, if one has the time and energy, and can afford it? Its design and variety drew much admiration from our members.

Finally, the two coaches both headed for Sway, where Phyllis Kennedy had a team of helpers waiting at her home to give us all tea. Her tiny garden, packed with plant gems, seemed to expand to take us all in. Who among us would not quail at the arrival of 60 people for tea? Not Phyllis: she was delighted and gave us a lovely welcome. (I am told she is well-used to entertaining such numbers.) Then it was back to Sparsholt to prepare for the evening.

Barry Phillips was our speaker that evening. The Curator of Hilliers Arboretum adopts the racey style of delivery typical of his ultimate predecessor, Roy Lancaster, and his lecture incorporated amusing anecdotes calculated to hold the interest of the general (often non-gardening) public that visit the Arboretum, including three and a half thousand children last year alone. There are 10,000 species of - mostly - clearly labelled woody plants, of which 182 species are now rare or endangered in the wild. Barry accompanied his talk with excellent slides of some of the choicest plants, many collected from Tibet, Nepal, India and China. The late Sir Harold Hillier knew many of the

THE HEATHER SOCIETY

great latter-day plant collectors, and over the years they had brought him specimens and seeds. In 1953 he bought Jermyns House ona site in 100 acres of land so that he could accommodate these rare trees around it. In 1978 he made the garden over to a Trust and Hampshire County Council accepted responsibility for it, adding a further 60 acres. The Arboretum is now run by a small staff of nine gardeners under a Management Committee of distinguished hor- ticulturalists.

On Sunday the programme began with the AGM, which was summarised in the Autumn 1990 Bulletin

Coffee was followed by what to many of us was the most important talk of the weekend. John Battye, who is Superin- tendent of the Floral Department at Wisley, spoke on the chequered history of the National Heather Reference Collection, (which at this date comprises nearly 700 dif- ferent cultivars), and the plans for the next ten years. Our Chairman published an article on the subject in the 1990 Year Book, so I will only mention that flowers from the collection were on display in the hall for members to admire their quality.

Andy Collins, who is responsible for the maintainence, (and is now a member of our Council), was attending his first Conference. He was able to compare notes with Norrie Robertson, who is in charge of the Bells Scottish National Collection at Perth, which we plan to visit during the 1992 Conference.

Before departing in coaches for our visit to the Hillier Arboretum, we had the opportunity of purchasing superb heather plants from David Edge, a member of our Council and the moving spirit behind the formation of the British Heather Growers Association. He had kindly brought a large van-load from his Verwood nursery.

Once inside the Arboretum, we were divided into two groups for the hour and a quarter guided tour, Barry

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YEAR BOOK 1991

Phillips leading one. He said that he is fortunate enough to have been able to take part in expeditions and recently visited Tibet to collect seed and cuttings for eventual introduction into cultivation. As the afternoon temperature soared, he thoughtfully stopped the group in the shade while he talked. I think we approved of everything we saw, except the heather garden! A welcome cup of tea, organised by Phil Joyner’s family and friends, awaited us at Jermyn House.

The Open Forum was as lively as usual, with questions on peat alternatives, whether to feed heathers grown on very light soil etc. Several members showed slides and Allen Hall’s were of a particularly high quality. There was a hilarious response to some of Norrie Robertson’s slides showing heather hummocks under the snow!

The gathering in the bar that night was really the last opportunity for everyone to relax and chat, because Mon- day morning is always hectic with the packing and many farewells. Fortunately, there was one last pleasure in store: for those travelling westward, an invitation to Des and Sybil Perry’s garden, and for those travelling northwards, a visit to Olivia Hall’s garden, which I was not alone in being delighted to accept.

The Two Heathers in Cyprus

David McClintock, Platt, Kent

Indeed, the two Ericas to be found further east than any others in Europe or Asia. Need I tell members that these are Erica manipuliflora and E. sicula? To see these two there immediately after Chelsea week, we flew to Ercan airport, east of Nicosia, arriving late, as usual, and getting to our hotel in Kyrenia at 3.30 a.m.

E. sicula This was my main quarry, after failing to see it in its only

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station in Turkey last year. (My references to it hereabouts in the 1990 Year Book need slight amendment). It is in fact to be seen almost only on the remarkable limestone ridge that runs across the northern part of the island. That area was invaded by the Turks in 1974 and is now part of the indepen- dent (albeit unrecognised) Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, covering about one-third of the island. One result is that familiar names have been replaced by (often old) Turkish ones, eg Girne for Kyrenia; and maps, and signposts, when there are any, give now only these Turkish names, a hindrance in tracing records.

E. sicula grows only in fissures of hard tall vertical cliffs. Such a habitat being scarce, the plant too is scarce and apparently now in small quantity. As with E. bocquetii (the other species at one time put in the genus Pentapera), I never saw it on the ground. E. bocquetii grew flat, closely appressed to low vertical rocks, but E. sicula bushes out reaching, as I saw it, 2 ft across and rather more down. The general Cistus scrub which covers much of the area on looser soil is unsuitable for it. Most of the plants I saw were out of reach, for humans, and also, fortunately, even for goats.

The records for it there date back to 1859. Based on the Flora of Cyprus, notes at Kew and specimens, they are for St Hilarion and 2nd gorge to the west, at 1900 ft; Buffavento, 3000 ft “abundant”; Ayios Khrysostomos; above Halevga 2000 ft (shady road and luxuriant and 6 ft across); Yaila 300 ft in the Pentadaktylos area; and out to the east, Phlamoudhi (Mersinlik) 1600 ft above Akanthou (Tatlisu) 900 ft. Top of hill Plaka, meaning flat plates of rock, near Akanthou village and just outside the boundaries of Kantara forest, conspicuous from the high level forest road as the hill with a hole through at the top of it, revealing the thinness of the crest. Plants numerous in two types.

By good fortune, Desmond Meikle, the author of the scholarly Flora of Cyprus, gave me an introduction to Dr

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YEAR BOOK 1991

Deryck Viney and his wife, English people now settling on the island. He showed us the plant at 1000 ft above his village of Karaman, SW of Kyrenia, where there was a rock with “4334” painted on it at the end of the path, and an old failed bore-hole with a square concrete cover over it - one stem there was about 4 ins in girth; also above the road at some 2000 ft at Yaila. He gave us further directions for it E of St Hilarion and above Akanthou, but in neither area could we find suitable cliffs. The roads to some of these places are at best poor, and it may well lurk elsewhere in the 1200 miles of this range. Nearly all its localities face north, but he has seen it south-facing at Buffavento. In addition it is also at Aphamis at 3200 ft on a limestone bluff in garrigue between vineyards in the Trodos mountains in the south.

The flowers we saw were mostly beginning to fade, and some were over. These showed the pale pink we are used to in Britain, where plants spend at least most of their lives under glass. But corollas out of the sun and late-flowering, were a rich pink, H1, the calyx darker, both in much the same way as E. bocquetii, but that has more numerous and much smaller flowers. One or two plants were shaded by other growths, one entwined with the horrible Smilax aspera, but usually were right in the open. The corollas were, mostly at least, slightly pubescent, the calyx glabrous as were the leaves, which reached 10 mm in length. But having seen plants in only two localities, a mere 10 miles apart, it remains to be seen if these characters are the same throughout; I must try to examine some herbarium specimens. All in all, but for Dr Viney’s help, I doubt if I would have managed to see it at all.

E. manipuliflora

What is even more certain is that, without his help, it would take anyone a very long time indeed, even with luck, to find this species. It is indeed very unobvious in the Kan- tara Forest in the NE, betwen Akanthou and Phlamoudhi, as we Saw it, as part of the understory of low woodland. In the fold at Kew are detailed notes by R. R. Waterer on both heathers (some of the details above came from him). It took

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him an immense amount of enquiry and searching to find what was then called E. verticillata but he eventually succeeded. His places hereabouts were

1. On top of round hills called Makriarashi and Ktnassa, near Phlamoudhi.

2. On foothills at 500 - 1000 ft on uncultivated steepish land outside the boundaries of the forest down to the village graz- ing land.

3. Stallos also near Phlamoudhi, far off the beaten track, no roads or recognised paths. Plant there called Rigia.

4. Nearer Akanthou at 350-400 ft with Rhamnus alaternus and Centaurium erythraea (he called it pulchellum) on N- facing slopes and redeposited chalk. He added that it was also reported from Kormiktos with Rh. alaternus.

But these names mean nothing now. The Greeks, who alone lived here, were turfed out and replaced by Turks, who could have no knowledge of these place names, rendering Waterer’s care nugatory.)

Dr Viney is writing and illustrating a Flora of N. Cyprus and was happily able to enlist an English-speaking forester from that area, Cemal Yurdakol, who, with a shepherd, had in 1988 managed to locate the heathers. He took us down tracks, through Cistus scrub, under Cupressus sempervirens trees of no great height and eventually to a few plants of our quarry. (I may say that on the way back we used quite a good track, but I doubt if I would find it at all easy to retrace my steps.) One of these plants was 8 ft tall with a stiff trunk. One hundred yards on there was one more; and at a further 2-300 yards perhaps 30 under the Cypresses with just one or two Pinus brutia. and here too, one plant towered above the rest at 8 ft, none were galled. Near by was by far the tallest Genista sphacelata any of us had seen or heard of, some 20 ft tall with a fine trunk. We were now about 250 ft above sea level there, with the lovely centuary.

But otherwise the locality failed to tally with Waterer’s description. Dr Viney on his previous visit remembered the

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YEAR BOOK 1991

alaternus with it. Search however as he did, when he did find some, there was no heather. The inference seems to be that it may well be in various spots scattered in the forest, none of them other than difficult to come on to.

All were a long way off flowering, in contrast to those in SW Turkey last August, when some were admittedly in bud, but many flowers were over. Mr Yurdakol told me that sprigs he had brought home in 1988 continued in flower from October to January. All the inflorescences were tight, cylindrical and rather shorter than elsewhere. The leaves were spreading and much longer than in the type, and the stems were brown not white. No doubt these colonies have been developing on their own for a very long time, perhaps even for the five million years or so since the Mediterranean Sea was formed? But it is doubtful on the present evidence if these Cypriot plants do not fit in well enough with those from the S. Turkish coast under 100 miles away, or with those in the Lebanon (where it is said to grow with E. sicula) 150 miles to the east. But I have yet to get there.

Once More ‘Amazing!’

H. M. J. Blum, Steenwijkerwold, Holland

(Last year we reprinted the first of two articles by Herman Blum which were published in Ericultura. The second, which appeared in the June 1989 edition, is reproduced here. Once again we are indebted to Nederlandse Heider- vereniging ‘Ericultura’ for permission to use it, and to Mr J. R. Tucker for producing the translation.

Ed.)

In Ericultura, No. 71, on page 7 I wrote under the

heading Amazing Isn’t It? about a heather garden, and a meeting with the owner.

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The article generated quite a lot of interest, and all those who contacted me seemed to like it, and to fully understand it’s implications. That of course was my intention in writing it. As a heather enthusiast, a writer of articles, or just a reader, you don’t often come across such an unusual pro- ceeding. It is certainly very remarkable to hear anyone tell you he cuts his whole heather garden right to the ground

_every year, regardless of species or variety, - and also that Beech mulch!

At the end of my last article I promised to go and have another look the next spring, and this I have done.

After my last experience with the man I considered it more politic not to risk a further meeting, so I parked my car nearby, and quietly sat observing his garden. That didn't take long, as there was practically no heather to be seen. It was all cut right down to the ground, with various stumps, one centimetre high sticking up through the Beech mulch. That should be the end of the story - but, just imagine, it was the 11th April, at the time when in every other heather garden Erica carnea and E. x darleyensis were in flower. In this one they were all cut down!

Obviously they had bloomed long enough, and the owner did not believe in wasting any time before taking necessary action. We had certainly had a mild winter and spring, but there was still a lot of flower about. What would he have done in a late season with some cultivars still to bloom? It is an interesting question.

The only one not touched was Erica arborea ‘Estrella Gold’. These were looking fine, and full of bud. But these will have their turn in due course, and before long I have no doubt.

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YEAR BOOK 1991

Who was “Our Mr Richard Potter’?

David McClintock, Platt, Kent

All we knew was in the very special leather-bound production entitled “Erica carnea, winter-flowering” issued by James Backhouse & Sons of York. It contained colour photographs(*) of the twelve E.carnea cultivars “Selected by our Mr Richard Potter during his Continental botanical rambles”, which were introduced at the time of the 1911 Coronation. To Potter’s eternal credit, all these twelve are still in the trade, 80 years later. The long-established and respected firm of Backhouse has ceased to exist; the archives at York had material about it, but nothing on Potter. Enquiries in suitable journals elicited nothing.

Until eventually I was sent by Susan Schnare, an American studying, by chance, at York, (to whom I am most grateful), a photocopy of pages 30 - 32 from the RHS Publication Rock Gardens and Rock Plants of 1936, with a paper by Mr R. W. Wallace (1867 - 1955), of Wallace & Barr of Tunbridge Wells. And therein was most of what I can now set out.

Potter proves to have been “the most able lieutenant of James Backhouse of York, a great student of alpines in their native habitats, constantly visiting Switzerland to gain experience from what he saw in nature”. He had a great following and trained up a most enthusiastic band of foremen, who worked under him. He it was who constructed the large rock garden at Warley Place for Miss Ellen Willmott (1858 - 1934); and he helped Sir Frank Crisp (1843 - 1919) of Friar Park, Henley plan his stupendous rock gar- den.

Wallace constantly met him at Warley Place. That I have come across no mention of him in any account of that

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garden or of its formidable owner is said to be because in those days such men, however capable, were never mentioned: it was the firm alone that mattered.

However there is one such garden where he is, just, mentioned. The Director of Birmingham Botanical Gar- dens kindly sent me a copy of pages 62 - 63 of An Oasis of Delight by Phillida Ballard, 1983, an account of that garden. In it is described the alpine garden, built in 1894 - 5, “The work supervised by Mr Potter, the firm’s garden architect”, tout court.

But in the interesting minutes of the General Committee for 1895 sent me by the City Archivist, about the difficulties of the undertaking, it is written that the work was “under the general supervision of Mr Richard Potter, Backhouse’s general contractor”.

There seems to be nothing to be gleaned from other undertakings that Wallace refers to, Friar Park, the large rock garden at the York Nurseries and Mr Samuel Doncas- ter’s at Sheffield, despite local enquiries.

Tantalising, isn’t it? - all the more since he seems to have been an excellent fellow. Or can anyone add anything, even when he was born or died? We know no such personal details of him, except that there is a photo of him and his wife in the RHS publication, which I hope is reproduced here with their special permission.

Since writing this I have learnt that Albert Julian and Jean Sharpe are following up some more clues. _

(* The colour photographs in the Backhouse publica- tion were almost certainly made by the tricolour carbro process which required great skill on the part of the photographer. The colours were produced from a black and white negative by the use of filters and pigments, and were hence controlled by the photographer while making the finished print.

Ed.) 18

YEAR BOOK 1991

Bad Companions

A. W. Jones, West Camel, Somerset

I freely own to being a heather addict. There is no point in trying to deny it, since most of the available space in the garden is given over to these plants. However, the soil is alkaline, and the main display of flower is during the winter and spring. In summer, interest is provided by the contrasts in the shape, texture, and foliage colours of the plants.

Despite my fondness for heathers, while planning a new bed, I decided to cast round for something which would give flower colour during the summer.

There are some attractive plants among the thymes. There is a group of cultivars a mere five centimeters tall, which some nurserymen seem to place, as the fancy takes them, into the species Thymus doerfleri, T. drucei, or T. ser- pyllum. I know too little about this genus to enter into their arguments. What is important here is that these plants are evergreen carpeters, and most are so covered with tiny flowers from June to August that their foliage is scarcely visible. The colours range from white, through pinks, to a deep purple-red. The foliage also varies from the bright green of the whites, to the dark greens associated with the darkest flowers, while some cultivars have variegated leaves. The low-growing group also contains T. Januginosus, the Woolly Thyme, which has grey foliage and pink flowers, and T. caespititius (micans) which again has grey-green leaves, but lilac flowers.

The cultivars of T. x citrodorus (T. pulegioides x T. vulgaris) are slightly taller at about 20 cm, and more erect. They bloom in May and June. As the name suggests, they have a pleasant lemon scent when the leaves are bruised, and those leaves are variegated gold or silver in most cultivars.

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THE HEATHER SOCIETY

All the Thymes require full sun, and prefer some lime in the soil. They thus seemed well suited to grow with Erica carnea and E. x darleyensis, and so I planted T. ‘Doone Valley’, T. serpyllum ‘Albus’, “Coccineus’ (surely better called “Purpureus’), ‘Pink Chintz’ and T. caespititius among the widely spaced stepping stones of a path in my new bed.

By now many of you will be thinking that I should have known better, and indeed so I should. However, I am writing this cautionary tale for those who know as little about plants and gardening as I. Of course the Thymes spread more rapidly than the young heathers. They choked and stunted the stronger cultivars, and totally over-ran the smaller ones with fatal results. They rapidly escaped from their alloted space by seeding freely in the newly prepared, bare ground between the heathers. Their fecundity exceeded even that of the Hairy Bitter Cress (Cardamine hirsuta), and I am wondering if I shall ever be free of these beautiful invaders. I now realise why I had seen them grown in walls, rock gardens, and among the stones in paths and terraces.

Pressing Plants

David McClintock, Platt Kent

(I have written on this subject before, demonstrated it at a conference, but the Editor asked me to write again for newer members.)

Why press and dry plants, which makes them lose their freshness, colour and often their grace? There must be cogent reasons, or there would not be countless millions of such specimens in herbaria all over the world.

Their value is their permanent record. Such a specimen, above all when carefully chosen and prepared, retains its

20

YEAR BOOK 1991

characters, except for colour - which should be noted, best if supplemented by a colour photograph. Indeed, the fuller the details on the accompanying label (by useful conven- tion put in the bottom right hand corner), the better, eg size and shape, accompanying plants, if cuttings were taken and who else was with you at the time, so they may be able later to discuss it or help refind it. The absolutely essential facts which must be there are the date and place and the collec- tor(s).

Be not daunted. Especially for such relatively dry plants as heathers, it is not much trouble. Newspaper will do (ideally of the date when you collected the plant). Spread the plant out in a natural way, add a slip with date and place and put it under some weight, such as books. Under the car- pet can do the job, but the whole must be kept dry - changing the papers may be advisable - have a look anyway.

Thereafter the specimen should be affixed to a sheet, about 17 x 11 ins (43 x 28 cm) is standard, of good cartridge paper. I think that this is best done with slips of adhesive tape (NEVER Sellotape), enough to ensure that the plant stays where you want it: two or three narrow slips may suffice.

To collect evidence this way is useful, especially in a special locality, and it is as simple as that. You do not even have the chore of having to smooth out the leaves. I know that many will drop off, but there is no way to avoid that permanently.

I am always glad to see such specimens, unmounted too, and if possible to incorporate them in the Society’s herbarium, which it is intended should eventually land up at Wisley.

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THE HEATHER SOCIETY

BOOK REVIEWS

Heather in England and Wales ITE research publication no. 3 R. G. H. Bunce (Ed.)

48 pp. 16 colour plates, 9 maps

H.M.S.O., 1989 ISBN 0 11 701422 2 £5.90

In response to the widespread concern over the decline of heather heath, in England and Wales, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology of the National Environmental Research Council, in 1988, began a survey of all the areas of heather in those two countries, totalling around 600,000 hectares, including an assessment of the current status, and the potential and prospects for its maintenance and restora- tion. The results are the subject matter of this booklet.

An interesting and illustrated account of the causes of the decline of our heather population is given, coupled with recommendations for future management. There are six 1:250,000 scale maps produced from Landsat satellite T.M. imagery showing the areas of general distribution, areas where it is dominant, and managed heather. Two coloured Landsat image photographs, showing heather as dominant vegetation in the Berwyn Mountains and the Yorkshire Dales, are quite remarkable.

Of particular interest to enthusiasts of heathers in the wild are the four very readable regional assessments of heathland heather in, Central and Southern England, East Anglia, Wales, and Northern England, each written by authorities in those regeons. Inevitably there is some repeti- tion in these assessments, but they give a wealth of informa- tion on heather management, history, and hopes for improvement in the future.

7a)

YEAR BOOK 1991

The section of 100 or so references and bibliography entries, the titles of which suggest compulsive reading about heather in the wild and its habitats, is worthy of mention.

Although presented in the form of a typical project report, this book is very readable, a source of interesting statistics and an authoritative reference for the current status of the major heather areas in England and Wales.

T. A. Julian

Heaths & Heathers Terry Underhill

335pp. 20 colour plates, 27 line drawings, 24 maps, index David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1990 (New Edition) ISBN 0-7153-8303-5

£25.00

The first edition of this book appeared in 1971. It has

been an open secret for some time that a new edition was in the course of preparation, and the publication, which was imminent for so long, was keenly awaited.

It follows the format of its predecessor, but has been considerably enlarged. It falls into two distinct sections. The first is concerned with the growing of heathers. The subject is given a broad interpretation, and there are some worthwhile digressions. The second part of the book contains brief descriptions of