Located in the marble planters at the entrance to Howlett Hall, the Ericaceous Collection features plants from the botanical family Ericaceae which thrive in low pH, or acid soils.
Examples of ericaceous plants include rhododendrons, azaleas, leucothoes, heaths, heathers, and blueberries. Ericaceous plants share similarities in botanical characteristics and also in cultural requirements. Most prefer moist, well-drained, acid soils, protected from strong winds.Central Ohio's soils are not well-suited for ericaceous plants and they are generally not recommended for local landscapes. However, these two large raised planter beds presented the opportunity for horticultural staff to amend and maintain the soil to meet the particular pH requirements for ericaceous plant. Having these plants in the Learning Gardens allows faculty to teach a wider pallet of plants to students, who likewise benefit from studying the plants in a living environment.
To prepare the large container beds, student staff excavated the soil to a depth of two feet and backfilled with a combination of sphagnum peat moss, finely ground pine bark mulch (pine fines), container soil media and sulphur.