I always have a little smile to myself when I see a Hebe because, of course, it’s a New Zealand native plant and reminds me of my homeland (though I was surprised to read today that they’re also native to South America, the Falkland Islands and one island in French Polynesia).
They’re tough plants. The two species shown here were photographed in 0° Celsius, in between hail showers, yet they show no signs of being affected by the Welsh winter and, in fact, are providing much-needed food for the few bees (that’s a Buff-tailed bumblebee in my photo) and other insects that are still out and about. As well as the cold, they’re also very tolerant of salty sea air so they’re a good plant for coastal gardens like those here in Penarth.
In case you didn’t know, the plant is named after the Greek goddess Hebe, daughter of chief god Zeus and his wife Hera. Hebe was barista on Mt Olympus, serving ambrosia and nectar to all the other gods and goddesses, until she married Heracles and became a stay-at-home mum to their two kids.