Hebe News – Article 2

A GOOD YEAR FOR HEBES

Well it certainly has been here in Oxfordshire. The weather conditions have brought many of my plants into flower early, including Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’ which was in full bloom by the end of May.

At the beginning of the year we decided to cut down a conifer that had grown to gigantic proportions and was shading and overpowering one end of our rear garden hebe bed. We bought the tree in the late 80s from a garden centre near Abingdon. The label stated that it would not grow more than 3 ft high and the picture showed a delightful tear drop shape. It soon became apparent that this was a slight exaggeration at it ended up about 20 ft high and just had to go. I managed to cut it to the ground myself by sawing the top off first, the worry being that it could crash into our hexagonal shaped greenhouse.

All was well and the extra light was appreciated by plants that were being overpowered. Hebe ‘First Light’ was the nearest plant to benefit and next to it was Hebe ‘Great Orme’ which grew to a decent size for once together with its close neighbour Hebe ‘Jack’s Surprise’. The last-named reminds me of hebe friends Ken and Gwen Harker who had a lovely hebe garden near High Wycombe and gave our gardening club, Village Greenfingers, a great evening soon after we formed it nearly 20 years ago. It was followed up by a visit by members to Kennel End who enjoyed it so much. It’s good to have plants that remind you of visits and friends, and they somehow mean a lot more.

Further down the border is Hebe ‘Nicola’s Blush, then an unnamed hebe that was a swap with the TV/Radio gardener Daphne Ledwood, who had a love for all plants variegated and owned a beautiful cottage in Lincolnshire that was open for charity some years go. Finally the monster at the end of the border is Hebe salicifolia which always looks so healthy with its glossy dark green leaves and produces a mass of flowers pointing the way to our vegetable garden.

Round to the front of our bungalow I have another hebe bed consisting of Hebe ‘Watson’s Pink’, Hebe ‘Oratia Beauty’, Hebe ‘Caledonia’, Hebe ‘Sapphire’, and Hebe ‘Killiney’ which is always very fast growing and wants to rule the world so I do prune it regularly to keep it in its place. Then I have container grown hebes in old chimney pots: Hebe ‘Rosie’, Hebe ‘Franciscana Variegata’, Hebe speciosa, Hebe ‘Dazzler’ and Hebe ‘Alicia Amherst’.

We have just had a holiday in Scotland and visited the Inverewe Gardens (Scottish NT) which had some lovely hebes in the beds. Unfortunately none of these were named.

Derek Leary


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