Hebe x franciscana 'Blue Gem'Veronica

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Origin: Garden hybrid; parent spp. from New Zealand

One of several crosses between Hebe elliptica and H. speciosa; raised in Salisbury in 1868; one of the most frequently planted and one of the hardiest, being particularly resistant to salt-laden winds - a common plant of coastal gardens, where it makes distinctive, dense hedges; especially common on the coasts of counties Antrim and Down, where it is sometimes known as 'veronica'. The flowers are sweet-smelling, and are much visited by bees; it has been known to be continuously in flower for over 2 years at a stretch. Easily propagated from cuttings, and has readily spread by this means from discarded garden waste.

The name Hebe is in honour of the goddess of youth, the cup-bearer to the gods.

All the photographs were taken in a garden in Islandmagee, Co Antrim in October 2004.

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