Evergreen? Check! Interesting foliage? Check! Long flowering season? Check! Low maintenance? Check! This sounds like the plant for me! With a name originating from the Greek Goddess of youth, the Hebe is a divine addition to any garden. A group of evergreen shrubs originating from New Zealand, they have become a staple in tubs and borders all over the UK. Working well in a pot, as a specimen plant, or as a part of a mixed border, the range of varieties and their versatility, means there’s always a Hebe that’s right for you. From small compact forms suitable for alpine gardens, through to their larger hedging brothers, this is a large and diverse family. They are also great for pollinators, producing butterfly and bee friendly flowers in shades of pink, blue or white. Most bloom in Summer, but with this being the case, what do they offer to make them our feature plant for February?
The answer is in the incandescent foliage which, from December through till April, glows forth from many varieties in the winter gloom. This can be a deep and vibrant red offset against a deep green, as with Hebe ‘Claret Crush’, to a luminous pink against a cream variegation as with Hebe ‘Silver Dollar’. Even the varieties without colour contrast seem more vivid at time of year, with the new growth on the glaucous Hebe ‘Blue Star’ or the burgundy Hebe ‘Pascal’ particularly vibrant. So whether it’s to put a flowering shrub in your mixed border, to give some structure to your rockery, or for a low maintenance pot on your balcony, a Hebe is worth its place in your garden.
Common Name: Shrubby Veronica/Veronica/Hebe
Botanical Name: Hebe
Flowering Time: Early Summer till Autumn (depending on variety.)
Height and Spread: Range From 0.5m x 0.5m-2m x 2m (most varieties on the smaller side.)
Aspect: Full Sun
Hardiness: Most Varieties are Hardy (some softer varieties may need winter protection.)