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.
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!