National Heather Collection

Aerial View of Perth

Riverside Park lies just off Dundee Road in the centre of Perth (on the left bank in the above picture), on fertile ground that slopes gently down to the River Tay. As a public park, it is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  

History: Until the 1990s Perth was home to an extensive National Collection of heathers in the garden of what were commercial premises at Cherrybank on the Glasgow Road. Sadly, the premises closed down and the garden fell into disrepair. The site was sold and new housing built on the site, meaning the National Collection was lost. In 2011, Perth & Kinross Council’s landscape architect drew up a vision for transforming Bellwood into an attractive public space, and Beautiful Perth ‘adopted’ the site. Its volunteers set to work creating a beautiful new heather garden in an area that had become rather tired and neglected.  Over the next few years, 15 heather beds were planted with 500 heather varieties and more than 15,000 individual plants. Part of the long-term vision was the creation a new National Collection to replace the lost Cherrybank garden.

National Collection of Erica Carnea: In 2022, Beautiful Perth submitted an application to Plant Heritage for a new National Collection of the heather Erica carnea, which has one-sided sprays about 8cm long of small, urn-shaped, pink, purple-pink, magenta or white flowers that appear in late winter and early spring. Volunteers from Beautiful Perth planted one of the existing heather beds in Riverside Park with 53 varieties of erica carnea, with back -ups located in the other heather beds. Each variety is labelled and further information provided on information boards in the Park and in leaflets. National Collection status was granted in November 2022. A full list of the 53 varieties currently in the National Collection can be found here. This will be updated when new varieties are added or in the (hopefully rare) occasions when existing ones are lost.

Care of the Collection: Volunteers from Beautiful Perth look after the collection, tending it with care every week, along with the other heather beds in the garden. They also maintain record of plants in the Collection on the Plant Heritage website.

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