In the Spotlight

tolly-beckWritten by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

The Lasdon Heather Garden

     We were fortunate to have been approached by the Northeast Heather Society (NEHS) in the spring of 2008 with an offer to install a Heather Garden at Lasdon at no cost to the park. The society does a great job of educational outreach about heaths and heathers, and they establish gardens at different locations as one of their approaches. The original garden they planted has matured so nicely over the last ten years.

    Hardy heathers prefer a full sun location but will tolerate light shade. There may be some diminishing of flower and foliage color if the location is too shady. Heathers like an acid soil that is well-drained. A clay soil composition can be made more suitable by adding compost and peat moss and mixing it in well. When planting heather the plant’s rootball should be level with the soil surface. Avoid planting heather too deeply as it will lead to certain failure. Heathers don’t appreciate constantly wet feet.  Heathers can be planted at anytime when the ground isn’t frozen.

    Fall and winter are perfect times to view the Lasdon heather garden which is located adjacent to the goldfish pond, near the Shop at Lasdon. This year, many of the hardy heathers have bloomed somewhat later than usual. The usual bloom time is between August and early fall.   Heather flowers can be found in pink, white, amethyst, majenta and red. Following flowering, the heather foliage takes on beautiful color. Hardy heathers look great in any season but the colorful foliage really creates interest in the late fall and winter garden. On your next visit to Lasdon come and enjoy the beautiful colors of this winter garden.