Bacopa, Indigenous Phlox, Sutera or James Brittennia.

Whatever the name, the Bacopa, an ankle-high ground cover, with tits graceful flowers and light, airy foliage, are a charming addition to any border. A new generation of these indigenous perennials is now available as a result of the partnership between the Kirstenbosch Botanic Institute and Ball Flora in the USA.

Aptly named Bacopa ‘Breeze’, for their ethereal qualities, the three new varieties are also surprisingly hardy and drought tolerant. They form part of the ‘Simply Beautiful’ range of easy to grow, proven bedding plants. If planted now they will flower in spring and go through to autumn, until the first hard frost sends them undercover for winter.

The Bacopa ‘Breeze Indigo’ attracted a lot of attention at the Ball Straathof trial gardens that were opened to the public in April. What’s different about the ‘Breeze Indigo’ is that it has a darker blue flower and a larger flower size compared to other blue or lavender varieties. Planted together with the taller growing ‘Angelonia’, and the lower growing ‘Nemesia’ and ‘Diascia’, the cottage garden mix produced an effect that was as delicate as a finely embroidered Victorian sampler. And it was a magnet for bees and butterflies as well.

There is also a Bacopa ‘Breeze Pink’ and both it and the ‘Breeze Indigo’ are fast growing ground covers that have a mounded yet spreading habit, providing cushions of colour. They fill out from the centre, ensuring that the plant is covered with flowers in spring and summer. They can be used instead of Alyssum, Lobelia or Ageratum in a border.

For contrast and texture, try planting them in front of plants with larger leaves, like the new Wizard Coleus, that are more sun tolerant. An eye-catching combination would be to plant the ‘Breeze Pink’ or ‘Indigo’ as a border to the taller growing Dianthus ‘Amazon Neon Purple’ or ‘Cherry’. They are also suitable for hanging baskets and containers – the dainty star-like flowers with their glowing yellow centres are bound to attract attention.

They do well in coastal gardens with compost-enriched soil. The Bacopa ‘Breeze White’ is the only upright white available in South Africa. It has star-shaped white blooms with a distinctive yellow eye. It is compact, well branched and does not lose its shape. This makes it particularly suitable as a bedding plant. It grows in ordinary garden soil, in a sunny or partially shaded position and should be watered well in the growing season.

Bacopa ‘Breeze Indigo’, ‘Pink’ and ‘White’ form part of the Simply Beautiful range of perennials available through garden centres. Other indigenous perennials in the range include ‘Nemesia’, ‘Diascia’, and Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’.

The Gardener