Hebe x speciosa
Hebe x speciosa
Hebes are generally small to medium sized evergreen shrubs that originate largely in New Zealand. Numerous garden hybrids and cultivars have been bred or selected from some 75 species that are found growing in the wild. Many have small conifer-like leaves whilst others have larger foliage and attractive flowers in a range of colours that are produced from spring through to autumn. Some have a longer flowering season than others. The modern-day hybrids perform better and are floriferous and more disease resistant. A relative newcomer to our gardens is Hebe x speciosa ‘Sunset Boulevard’, with dark pink flowers borne in terminal racemes during summer and autumn. It develops into a neat, rounded shrub, about 1 m tall. Leaves are narrow, lanceolate, glossy and dark green with prominent red mid-ribs. The maroon new growth is attractive in its own right and adds an extra feature to the plant. Grow ‘Sunset Boulevard’ in full sun or dappled shade. They prefer well-drained soils with plenty of added compost to improve water retention. Feed hebes with general fertiliser (3:1:5 slow-release nitrogen is recommended) every 6-8 weeks to ensure optimum growth and good health. Prune them lightly after flowering to stimulate new growth. Use hebes in shrubberies, large rock gardens, en masse in substantial landscape plantings or in pots on patios. ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is a happy little shrub that is richly rewarding in the garden. Flowers pick easily and last reasonably well in the vase. Plants are readily available in garden centres country-wide in climates where the plants thrive.