In the town of Hartland,
in the north western part of Hartford County, Connecticut, at an
elevation of 1200 feet, there is a good stand of Calhma vulgaris, which
extends over an area of about an acre. Since it is rather unusual to
find this shrub in such a location, which has very little protection
from the winter cold, the writer attempted to trace the history of the
introduction of the plant to this part of Connecticut.
Mr. L. E. Pearson, a forester in Connecticut, first noticed it when
looking over the woodland of the present owners, Dr. and Mrs. Henry A.
Sturman. Most of the following information was obtained by the Sturmans
in conversation with local inhabitants of the area. The present Sturman
farm was owned by one John Schwaller and his wife, who came to America
from Alsace-Lorraine in the 1870s and settled on the property in
Hartland. It is reported that the original seeds of the present stand of
heather were sent in a letter from Mrs. Schwallcr's mother who told her
daughter that the shrub would be valuable for winter forage for the
cows. The exact year the seeds were sent is not known hut presumably at
least 40 years ago, and possibly 50 or 00 years ago. It would probably
be safe to assume that the stand has been in existence for 50 years.
The present site is an old field which has commenced to grow up with
gray birch, white pine and some juniper, as well as mountain laurel. It
would appear that the pines offer some protection from the winter
storms. However, the site being on the top of a rather exposed hill,
does not appear to be a location in which the heather would thrive. The
remarkable thing is that it has apparently continued to spread slowly
for about half a century. Some of the plants show evidence of winter
killing in the tops but the branches underneath seem to remain protected
so they leaf out again each spring and come into full flower each
summer. At this writing, the sixth of August, the plants are in full
bloom and present a beautiful sight. In conversation with Dr. and Mrs.
Sturman a few days ago they said some Scottish friends of theirs, now
living in this country, actually had tears in their eyes when they
viewed the shrubs in full bloom. — S. E. Parker, pleasant valley,