This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
The few species of which this interesting group of evergreens is composed were formerly referred to Arbutus, and though by no means strikingly showy either in foliage or flowers, are yet sufficiently distinct and interesting for admission to even a small American garden.
The species usually cultivated are natives of America and the colder countries of Europe, inhabiting dry heathy mountains and rocky exposed situations, and are valuable in this country for clothing rockeries and sterile banks on which it would be difficult to induce other shrubby plants to grow. When introduced into the American garden, it will be necessary to raise the beds sufficiently above the surface to insure thorough drainage, so that they may ripen their wood thoroughly, as in a damp or very rich soil they have a tendency to continue their growth till late in autumn, and be damaged by the winter's frost.
All of the sorts flower freely, and produce abundance of bright-red berries, which are most effective in winter, and eagerly eaten by game. This, along with its thorough hardiness and its facility of cultivation, renders the common species "uva ursa," the bear-berry of our mountains, a most desirable plant for cover, and we are convinced that it might be planted on bare waste moors extensively for that purpose with great advantage.
We note the following sorts as among the most ornamental and most suitable for garden decoration: they are all more or less procumbent in their habit, and resemble very much in general appearance some of the well-known forms of cotoniaster: - alpina, arbutoides, serpilifolia, uva ursa.