These used to be known as veronica, a name which now applies only to the herbaceous species. Hebes are all evergreen shrubs, mostly rather tender though they usually thrive well by the sea and can be grown in many gardens that are sunny, warm and sheltered. They are not at all fussy about soil and transplant safely even when quite large. They can be pruned hard in spring or be trimmed in summer if used as hedges, though some loss of flower that year will occur. The hardiest species are Hebe brachysiphon (often wrongly called H. traversii) and H. salicifolia. The first is 5 to 6 ft. high with neat, box-like leaves and white flowers in small spikes in July, the second 6 to 12 ft. high with narrow leaves and white flowers in slender trails from June to August.

H. hulkeana is one of the most graceful kinds, normally a couple of feet high but twice as much if trained against a wall, with rather loose stems bearing sprays of lavender-blue flowers in May—June, but it is distinctly tender.

Hebe brachysiphon

Hebe pinguifolia pagei has grey leaves, white flowers in June, is semi-prostrate and makes excellent ground cover, and H. armstrongii is grown for its foliage, the whole 2-ft. Plant looking rather like a windswept coppery-bronze cypress.

There are also a great many garden hybrids since hebes cross freely and seed germinates readily. The most handsome but also the most tender are the speciosa hybrids with stout leaves and showy spikes of flowers in late summer, such as Alicia Amherst, violet purple; La Seduisante, carmine; Simon Delaux, crimson, and andersonii variegata, purplish blue, leaves heavily variegated with cream. All are about 3 ft. high.

A little hardier is Midsummer Beauty, with long lavender trails from July to November and growing to 6 ft. Still hardier are Autumn Glory, 2 ft., purplish blue, July to November; Carl Teschner, sprawling, violet, July; carnea and Great Orme, both 3 ft., white and pink, flowering from May to September; Margery Fish, 2 to 3 ft., violet blue and white, July to September, and Marjorie, 2 to 3 ft., light blue, July to September.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.