New Zealand Greenery - Hebe Plants
1. Can you tell us, what exactly is a Hebe?
A Hebe is a close related of Veronica (speedwell). It is an evergreen shrub that comes from New Zealand. There are 100 species and many cultivars
2. What attracted you to these type of plants compared to the many other types of garden plants and flowers?
Hebes have a neat habit, a wide range of leaf shapes and colours, and flower well in early summer. They look good throughout the year.
3. Can you recommend a Hebe plant for the amateur gardener?
Hebe 'Red Edge' is hardy, easy to grow, widely available and always looks good, especially in winter (when it turns purple).
4. How should this plant be cared for and what is its appeal?
A light trim after flowering keeps it compact. Good foliage, with flowers a bonus.
5. What are the aims of your society and how can interested people get involved?
The Hebe Society promotes Hebes and other New Zealand native plants. It publishes a quarterly magazine 'Hebe News'. A cuttings exchange is operated via the magazine to allow members to increase their collection of hebes. (New Members can join via the site here)
6. Is interest in Hebe on the increase in the UK?
Interest in Hebe (and shrubs in general) is slightly on the wane as it not an herbaceous plant or grass. However all garden centres stock a good range of Hebes, and there are several nurseries specialising in Hebes.
7. If someone buys a Hebe for their garden where would you recommend they locate it and also are there any garden styles in particular that can benefit from a Hebe plant?
Hebes grow best in full sun in a sheltered spot. Small hebes can be used in the front of a border, larger hebes can be used at the rear of a border or as a specimen. They can be used as formal or informal hedges. Hebes associate with all types of plants, with phormiums making a nice contrast (they grow together in New Zealand).
8. Do you have a favourite Hebe, if so what type and why?
Hebe venustula, it always looks good and has arching branches, (see photo above).
8. How many members do you have and do you meet up regularly?
250 members, most in the UK, others in Europe, USA, Canada and New Zealand. In informal local groups, and annually at our AGM.
Hebe Venustula (collected Mount Hikurangi) Credit: Tony Hayter, Hebe Society