What is a winter-hardy bud-bloomer?
Terminology & origin of the bud-bloomer
From the wasteland plant to the most important garden plant
The witch-broom heather – Calluna vulgaris – has accompanied humans in Western Europe since a few thousand years. Kurt Kramer (Edewecht) just assisted Mother Nature with his horticultural knowledge and skills to write a success story with the introduction of the Gardengirls®.
Initial activities in Edewecht
Kurt Kramer had his first heath experiences in 1965 during a military exercise in Scotland. As a horticulturist, he was surprised by a few white flowering plants sprinkled in otherwise very uniform heath areas. Most likely this was the jump-starter for his future horticultural vocation as a breeder. Later, Kramer worked with heather plants while working for a cemetery gardener. He recognized pot heather (Erica gracilis) and Calluna. The latter were in rather bad shape compared to the potted heather. This should change very soon!
After attending the Horticultural Technical School, Kurt Kramer established his own nursery in 1970 at the small agricultural farm in Edewecht. He specialized in propagating heather plants. The sandy soil with high organic matter was ideal. He tested all known and available species and varieties known in the Netherlands and in England to check for winter hardiness and horticultural suitability.
Up to 1980, approx. 330 varieties were collected and compared. From this pool, around 20 made it to propagation. From other 20 European heather species (Erica), six species and 1 hybrid were considered worthwhile, but with light winter protection using fir branches in the production area or sufficient hardy in the garden. By 1990, from those species annually 350.000 pots were produced, mostly Calluna, then called summer heather due to the flowering time.
The success story
From that time on, Kurt Kramer and his team established the term “Bud-Blooming Heather” and “Gardengirls” on the market by promoting the advantages for growers and consumers. The demand for this crop increased. Rising production numbers led to rising income from the licenses used for more intense breeding.
When naming new varieties, sometimes special names were chosen. A beautiful red variety received the name ‘Athene’, the especially long lasting white ‘Helena’ using Greek goddesses. The famous singer Vicky Leandros, originally from Greece, baptized those varieties at a public garden exhibition.
In the meantime, there are 60 varieties of the Gardengirls® with the best colour range from August-October. The bud colours of the Late Line lasts well into winter. In a newer development, Kurt Kramer also worked with varieties with colourful foliage without buds or flowers. The ornamental value comes from the leaves in silver, green, yellow to red and an almost black. Some varieties have a pendulous growth habit.
More background information about heather under: Heidewelt