One of the most treacherous areas in the garden (and believe me we have a few) is the bank below the garage. This steeply grassed area slopes to a 5ft vertical drop down onto a 5ft wide ledge with another vertical drop perhaps 20ft down to the lower garden. Not somewhere you want to hang about for long. Fortunately for me Bossman does most of the grass cutting in this area but in order to try to make it a little more interesting and to slowly reduce the amount of grass I have planted various shrubs on this bank. These include weigelias, deutzias and a Viburnum tinus, basically any young shrubs we had to hand. It was altered/adulterated by the legendary gardeners’ friend, “The Builders”. Therefore the soil on this bank is composed of a thin crust of imported top soil below which is an assortment of builder’s detritus. Attempting to plant large specimens here would be a waste of time for two reasons. Firstly the logistics of digging a suitably sized planting hole in this rubbish whilst attempting not to fall off, secondly they just wouldn’t thrive with their roots such poor soil. The best method was to plant small specimens and let them find their own way.
New Zealand is a hot spot for hebes and all known species except one can be found there. Hebe was the greek goddess of youth, appropriate as they tend to be much better as a young plants, becomes woody and sprawling as they mature and don’t take too kindly to hard pruning. This is Hebe “Wiri Charm” and is one of a series of “Wiri” developed in Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens by Jack Hobbs. It has done remarkably well, still flowering away without a care in the world. Well except that it is fully exposed to the salty sea winds, has an east facing aspect and barely any soil to grow in. Hopefully it will get through the winter and provide food for the butterflies that love to feast on its nectar.