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Daboecia cantabrica

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Authors: Huds.   Koch  

Botanical Description

Given the chance, this long loved plant can in the wild measure 2m or more across, but in gardens it may be expected to be little more than 75cm wide and 40cm high. Leaves sessile, ovate-elliptic, 1cm or more long, the upper ones narrower, almost hairless and deep green above, but ciliate and closely white-felted beneath. Flowers typically nodding, (erect in D.c. forma blumii), 1.4cm long with a very few short, glandular hairs on the outside, in terminal racemes of up to twenty, normally reddish-purple, often rather pale, but also pink, cherry-red or white, and there is a double form. Coastal areas of southwestern France, northern Spain, Portugal and western Ireland in heathland. Among the fifty or so named cultivars, the following are some which could be effective in a rock garden. A single plant is enough unless the area is large. 'Atropurpurea', small, dark purple bells. 'Bicolor', florets purple white or a varied mixture of both, often on the same raceme. 'Blueness', possibly an improvement on 'Praegerae'. 'Charlie Nelson', the only double, blemished by its fat corollas failing to fall when dead. It has the unusual characteristic that the first flowers are usually single, only the later racemes being double. 'Cinderella', soft pink, from 'Bicolor'. 'Covadonga', remarkable for its split, revolute corolla of a unique brownish-crimson. 'David Moss', white. There are many other whites, all good, all coming under forma alba. There is no single 'Alba' clone. 'Porter's Variety', the smallest cultivar, 15cm or so, with curious small, dark purple pinched corollas. 'Praegerae', rich pink corollas with hardly a trace of blue; deservedly long popular. 'Rainbow', variegated leaves. 'Snowdrift', the only normal named white. 'Waley's Red', a good cherry-red. 'White Blum' (of forma blumii), erect habit made even smarter by its erect florets.