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The true heaths belong to the Erica genus and include more than 700 species and countless cultivars, such as winter heath (Erica carnea), bell heath (Erica cinerea), Darley Dale heath (Erica x darleyensis), Cornish heath (Erica vagans), and cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix).
Plants will grow to 60cm if left to their own devices but can be easily trimmed to keep under control. The flowers are held in terminal clusters holding up to 10 individual flowers. Cultivars of Erica mackayana are not widely commercially grown but is a valued plant in a garden for its Summer display.
The habit is usually upright but more lax varieties such as E tetralix Pink Star are of special interest with its star like pink flowers, one of my favourite heathers. The flower colours vary from white (‘Alba Mollis’) with silvery grey foliage through to pink (‘Hookstone Pink’ and ‘Pink Star’) and dusky crimson red (‘Riko’).
Erica x darleyensis ‘Phoebe’ This plant is a Winter/spring flowering heather, a cross between Erica carnea and the taller Erica erigena. It tends to form a larger ‘clump’ or small bush shape to a height of 18” (45cm), flowering from late March to May and continuing to flower for a period after the other Erica carnea cultivars have finished.