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Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea - Hardy Perennials and Old Fashioned Flowers

Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea Described.

Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea - Vaccinium Vitis-Idæa - Red Whortle-berry; sometimes called Cow-berry; Nat. Ord. Vaccinaceæ.

Although a native evergreen, and in some parts occurring extensively, it proves to be both decorative and useful as a garden subject; as a neat evergreen it is worthy of a place, especially when it is not to be found near in a wild state. It is seldom seen without either its waxy and pink-tinted white flowers or its bright clusters of red berries, but in October it carries both, which, together with the fine condition of the foliage, renders the shrub most attractive. It grows 6in. to 9in. high under cultivation.

In form the flowers somewhat resemble the lily of the valley, but they are closely set in the stems and partly hidden, owing to the shortness and drooping character of the racemes; not only are the flowers pleasingly tinted, but they exhale a full and spicy odour; the buds, too, are tinted with a lively pink colour on their sunny sides. The berries are quickly developed, being nearly the size of the holly berry, but a more bright red. The leaves are stout, shining, and leathery, and ofttimes pleasingly bronzed. They are over ½in. long and egg-shaped, being bent backwards. The stems are furnished with short hairs, are much branched, and densely foliaged. This compact-growing shrub would make a capital edging, provided it was well grown in vegetable soil. It would go well with Erica carnea to form a double line, either to a shrubbery or permanent beds of dwarf flowering trees. Now that berries are so much used for wearing about the person and for indoor decoration, those of this shrub may become useful. A dishful of sprigs in October proves pleasant both to the sight and smell, the flowers and fruit being charmingly blended.Fig. 108. Vaccinium Vitis-idæa.
(Natural size.)
V. v.-i. major is a variety which is simply larger in all its parts; it is, however, rather more bronzed in the foliage. I daresay by many it would be preferred to the typical form, both for its robust and decorative qualities. It is nearly twice the size of the type.

As may be inferred, both from the order to which this shrub belongs and the localities where it occurs in its wild state, a peaty or vegetable soil will be required. I find the species grow most freely in a mixture of leaf soil and sand, the position being moist but exposed. It does not object to a little shade, but then its useful berries are neither so numerously produced nor so well coloured.

It is easily propagated by division at almost any time.

Flowering period, May to October.

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Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea

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