Thank you to Eric La Fountaine for both today’s photographs and the written accompaniment.
A recently introduced cultivar, Hebe ‘Silver Dollar’ is a sport of the popular Hebe ‘Red Edge’. Ease of care and year round performance have made hebes very popular with gardeners. The play of the low angled sunlight across the colourful, rain dappled branch tips caught my eye. The distinctive branch structure with opposite leaves held in perpendicular rows is typical of the genus. The diversity of size and form of the plant make it adaptable to many garden designs.
There are around 90 species of Hebe and all but one are found in New Zealand, where it is the largest plant genus. Most species are endemic to New Zealand, but hebes also occur in southeast Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, French Polynesia and South America. Probably due to its year-round fresh evergreen appearance, the plant was named after the Greek goddess of youth.
An article in the Seattle Times, Hardy Hebes extolls the virtues of hebes for Northwest gardens. Many hebes are tender, so winter hardiness is a concern to growers. The Hebe Project at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center of Oregon State University reports on garden trials of many Hebe cultivars as to cold tolerance and other factors of concern to area horticulturists.