Travel stories: Gardens in Europe, part 9

While we were in Basel, Switzerland, we did a lot of walking and occasionally hopped onto one of their trams if we had quite a lot of distance to cover. The cool thing about staying in hotels in Basel is that all guests are given a free "mobility ticket" which gives you unlimited rides on the trams. Boy, I wish all cities did that for their visitors, don't you?

During our wanderings, we saw some interesting plantings that caught my eye. The top photo is a combination of white-flowered heathers, ornamental kale and some type of red fescue. That makes a nice effect for this time of year.

While we were on a tram but at a stop, I saw these two other planters (see 2nd and 3rd photos) and really wanted to jump off the tram to take a photo of them! My husband persuaded me to stay seated, ha, but the next day, we were walking along the street and I saw these planters again. Hooray! So I was able to take a couple of photos of the planters at my leisure, just knowing you'd be interested in them.

As you can see, this is a combination of a chartreuse-colored heather and a whole bunch of heucheras (coral bells) with varying colors of foliage. Is that cool or what? I know the heucheras are perennials and heather must be grown as a perennial over there as well, but how do they keep everything tidy and small? I thought you'd be particularly interested in seeing this combination. Maybe the folks who maintain the beds had just given all of the heucheras end-of-the-season haircuts? Or maybe because they're all grown so closely together, they retain their petite size... not that heucheras tend to get large and unruly, that is.

But boy, do I wish heather was hardy enough to grow year-round in Spokane! But for those of you who are reading this blog and live in a bit warmer climate, you are welcome to steal this idea!

After doing a bit of research, it looks like heather is hardy for zones 4-6 but we've tried growing them here and they never made it through the winter. Has anyone had any luck with them in the Inland Northwest?