Spring has seen a busy start to the year here at Sandhurst Garden Design. Sherborne Garden Angels have already built two of my designs, with others ongoing or waiting to make at start, and I have more on my drawing board.
We have found that more clients are planning staycations this summer in the present situation we find ourselves in, and they are choosing to invest in improving their gardens, which will give them many years of pleasure to come.
If you are planning a garden make over or thinking of revamping your borders, then give me a call on 0789 9710168 or visit my website at www.sandhurstgardendesign.co.uk.
This month I am going to feature the humble Hebe which is one of the most under-valued of our garden shrubs. This tough neat evergreen native to New Zealand, Australia and South America, and named after the Greek goddess of Youth, is a real gem of a plant that will instantly perk up a dull spot in any garden.
Hebe are happy planted in most soil types but dislike heavy clay or waterlogged soil. They like to be in full sun but will tolerate partial shade and once established are drought tolerant.
There are lots of varieties of this versatile plant to choose from, and all have a long flowering period from May to October. This neat evergreen shrub is ideal for a summer border providing flowers in summer which are loved by the bees and provide year-round foliage. The compact varieties are perfect for edging a garden path or driveway or planted in a container, whilst the larger varieties can be grown to form a hedge.
These useful plants will tolerate pollution making them a good choice for a city garden and sea salt spray so ideal for a coastal garden but take care with the larger leaf varieties as they are more vulnerable to cold and chilly winds, so best planted in a sheltered spot.
I have singled out a few varieties to mention, but a visit to your local garden centre or nursery will no doubt offer you even more to choose from.
Hebe rakaiensis is a really good alternative to Buxus and perfect for clipping into topiary shapes creating neat forms perfect for adding structure to your border during the winter months, and an ideal plant for the oriental style garden. This fully hardy rounded evergreen shrub has glossy green leaves and clusters of large white flowers from early to mid-summer H 1.2m.
Caledonia is another excellent choice; this dark green plant has foliage which is tinted red when young and has violet flowers in late spring early autumn H 1m S 1m.
Hebe ‘Champagne’ has lilac-tinted flower spikes between July and September that fade to white with age has glossy green leaves that flush with purple in winter H 60 cms and S 60cms.
If you are short on space, consider one of the compact varieties. Hebe ‘Green Globe’ H 30cms x S 30cms flowers between June and August. This dwarf evergreen shrub forms a natural dome and produce masses of tiny white flowers on short spikes in summer. The tight habit of this plant gives the appearance of having been clipped so perfect for a low maintenance garden and looks great planted with airy grasses or en masse to line a pathway.
Alternatively, Hebe buxifolia ‘Nana’ is a dense rounded shrub with small elliptical shaped leaves about 1cm in length that resembles boxwood. This compact variety has a spreading habit and has pale lavender-coloured flowers in July grows to about H 30cms and S 30cms.
Finally, Hebe ‘Heartbreaker’ this frost hardy shrub provides wonderfully decorative foliage of slender cream edged leaves that take on a vivid pink flush when the temperature drops which will last until the spring. Flowering between June and August with clusters of mauve-coloured flowers, this plant grows to H 60cms.
Hebe’s are easy to take cuttings from in mid-July to early September. Using secateurs cut off a stem of the current season’s growth about 15-20cms in length and pop into a plastic bag until you are ready to plant it.
Prepare a 9cm pot with a mixture of 50/50 compost and grit which is big enough to grow 3 or 4 cuttings. Shorten each stem to 15cms in length cutting just below a pair of leaves, and snip off the tip of the cutting. Dip the cutting into rooting hormone powder and push carefully into the compost spaced out equally around the pot edge.
Place you cutting in a cold frame or cover with a plastic bag and put on a warm windowsill until the cutting has taken. Over winter in a protected spot and it will be ready to plant out into your garden the following spring.
Until next time