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Heat is released as a component of the larger OpenStack project - so a Heat version for Gizzly is meant to work with Grizzly components (only). This is what we fully support with backports for bug fixes.

That said, many of the heat developers use Folsom as their base development environment while using the upcoming Grizzly Heat software. Most things should work, with the exception of volumes and quantum integration. Volumes may not work because there is a dependency on cinder, and quantum in Folsom was not in a state that was usable by Heat. Also you will need to install oslo-config manually, as Grizzly's heat depends on that.

We are supportive of a forward compatibility model - ie: If you run on Grizzly, you can transition to Havana easily. It is hard to offer any guarantees in reverse since Heat will integrate to new APIs/features as they become available and these may not be backward compatible.

No idea on Essex.