Plant of the month: mysterious hebe

A strange and beautiful plant lurks on the Winter Walk, waiting to confuse and beguile visitors...

Hebe ochracea 'James Stirling'Hebe ochracea ‘James Stirling’ AGM is a striking evergreen architectural plant that we have growing on the Winter Walk, where the unusual colour and form can be appreciated throughout the year, but looking at its most striking when covered in icy hoar frost.

It wouldn’t be unusual the first time you see it to think that it is a conifer of some kind, as the small scale-like, ochre-yellow leaves hug the stems, much like a coniferous plant. In late spring, however, the branches are sporadically covered in small white star-like flowers that make you realise that it is in fact a hebe.

A relatively slow-growing and compact plant, needing little attention, it will suit many planting combinations from mixed borders a bit like ours on the Winter Walk, to complementing and providing some well-formed structure to alpine-style plantings.

The most important things to consider at all times though is to make sure it has plenty of light and that it won’t be out-competed and smothered by any faster-growing neighbours.

Hebe ochracea 'James Stirling' close-upHebe ochracea 'James Stirling' in frost



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