Wednesday Vignette – catfish and Hebes

As I was up on a ladder today at Joy Creek, I found myself eye to eye with a catfish. This encounter was in preparation for our Fall Sale, and I was in full display making mode.

The list of our discounted offerings is rather long, and included in what is going for half price is one of my favorite plant groups: Hebes. If you don’t know what they are, I can tell you that they are a genus unique to New Zealand. Because our climate here in the Pacific NW is rather like theirs, we are fortunate to be able to grow many of these fabulous shrubs and subshrubs here.

Because our Hebe varieties are overwhelmingly numerous, and I was tasked with making a display that made sense, I did a little research. And, of course I learned something new. It’s hard to tell when you see tiny plants in D4 pots, but they actually grow up to do all kinds of things. A handful of the Hebes and Parahebes we carry make phenomenal, weed smothering groundcovers. I had no idea…!

Others adult in exceptionally tight and tidy configurations – these are the plant world’s perfect PTA fundraising parent equivalents; rounded, polished, mounded form. There are plenty of candidates suitable for lining up and edging borders.

All Hebes are evergreen and have leaves that display these fabulous, near fractal geometries in how they are put together. Several have foliage that change color with the seasons, and most all of them bloom, in either white, lavender, purple, violet, magenta, or soft pink.

Many make excellent partners in planters, and carry on long after their pals have succumbed to death or dormancy. This is how I first saw them when we moved here. I could not believe that these architectural marvels in pots all around the city, were real! In addition to the fantastic shapes, the foliage color range encompasses everything from a silvery blue to cream, purple, burgundy, pink, and just about any shade of green.

Others still are what we call whipcords, and are easily mistaken for conifers. This group includes several of my personal favorites. Actually, I have about a dozen favorites. (Is that even allowed?) Anyway, I bet this diverse genus really does contain something for everyone, regardless of preferences. Look them up and concoct your own fab combo. They are such fun plants!

Most Hebes are wider than tall, and some form nearly perfect hemispheres, without any need for pruning whatsoever. Only a few are taller than wide. They can get rather big, and can make good specimens. Some have tiny leaves, while others have large, glossy ones. As a general rule of thumb, the smaller the leaf, the hardier they are.

This is Hebe ‘Western Hills’. This is a very tough Hebe. Planted last year, I just moved my smothered Yucca out of its relative misery under an encroaching Callistemon and into the open air next to the Hebe, this past weekend. I think both I and the Yucca are happy about that.

As for my customary political commentary, I just want to say that I think the next moderator needs to be equipped with a stun gun on a stick and a license to zap anyone who interrupts or disregards the rules. Or a kill switch. Thank heavens for plants!

About annamadeit

I was born and raised in Sweden, By now, I have lived almost as long in the United States. The path I’ve taken has been long and varied, and has given me a philosophical approach to life. I may joke that I’m a sybarite, but the truth is, I find joy and luxury in life’s simple things as well. My outlook on life has roots in a culture rich in history and tradition, and I care a great deal about environmental stewardship. Aesthetically, while drawn to the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia, I also have a deep appreciation for the raw, the weathered, and the worn - materials that tell a story. To me, contrast, counterpoint, and diversity are what makes life interesting and engaging. Color has always informed everything I do. I’m a functional tetrachromat, and a hopeless plantoholic. I was originally trained as an architect working mostly on interiors, but soon ventured outside - into garden design. It’s that contrast thing again… An interior adrift from its exterior, is like a yin without a yang. My firm conviction that everything is connected gets me in trouble time and time again. The world is a big place, and full of marvelous distractions, and offers plentiful opportunities for inquiry and exploration. I started writing to quell my constant queries, explore my discoveries, and nurture my curiosity. The Creative Flux was started in 2010, and became a catch-all for all kinds of intersecting interests. The start of Flutter & Hum at the end of 2013 marks my descent into plant nerd revelry. I occasionally contribute to other blogs, but those two are my main ones. For sure, topics are all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blogs!
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18 Responses to Wednesday Vignette – catfish and Hebes

  1. We have some of those hexes. I like the catfish.

  2. I guess the Hebes would not survive in Ohio? What do you say, Anna? I chuckled at your last comment

  3. annamadeit says:

    Nope. Sorry – not that kind of hardy. They do well in zone 8, which we have here. I imagine some would also be alright in zone 7, but beyond that is anyone’s guess – even well mulched, and in VERY protected locations.

  4. “the plant world’s perfect PTA fundraising parent equivalents”…. hahaha! Love it. When does the sale start?

    My WV:

  5. krispeterson100 says:

    Thanks for the run-down on Hebes, Anna. I have several but they’re surprisingly elusive plants to find in garden centers here in SoCal. I’m afraid my WV turned into a major rant but I just couldn’t help it:

  6. Tina says:

    The next moderator will do well to use a shock collar or cattle prod. What a disgrace.
    I don’t know Hebe, but I sure like that photo–what a beautiful plant combination!

    • annamadeit says:

      Oh Tina, it was so BAAAAD! I was fuming when I sat down to write my vignette post, but good god – I didn’t want to write about it. I needed to focus on something nice to calm me down, and Hebes came to mind, as I spent the entire day working with them.

  7. Tina says:

    Your photo reminded me that I’d taken a shot that I really like. So, I do have a WV for today: Thanks for hosting and inspiring me to write and post!

  8. Hebes are handsome plants, though we do not grow them around here. As for catfish, they can taste better than they look.

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