Hebes are mostly native to New Zealand though frequently grown in the British Isles, parts of western Europe and the west coast of North America. This shrub can be seen in flower in some supermarkets and garden centers in July or August – a plant for the conservatory although it can be kept in a large room for a few years. The problem is that it flowers from summer to early fall and this is the time it should spend outdoors.
The floral spikes are made up of tiny flowers which fade to white with age. Hebes are easily recognized by their bottle-brush flower spikes usually produced in large numbers. Hebes leaves are noted for their beautiful appearance throughout the year and usually come in numerous colors including silver, green, grey and red, which serve as a great attraction to butterflies, bees and other insects.
Jacaranda is a kind of flowering plants and native to subtropical regions of South and Central America. In many parts of the world, the blooming of this tree is welcomed as a sign of spring.
Jacaranda’s size varies from 2 to 30 m tall. The leaves are bipinnate in most species, pinnate or simple in a few species. The flowers are produced in conspicuous large panicles, each flower with a five-lobed blue to purple-blue corolla. The fruit is an oblong to oval flattened capsule containing numerous slender seeds. Several species are widely grown as ornamental plants throughout the subtropical regions of the world, valued for their intense flower displays. The most often seen is the Blue Jacaranda. Some are also commercially important. For example the Jacaranda copaia is important for its timber because of its exceptionally long bole.
Mahonia is a small fully hardy perennial evergreen shrub native to China with yellow flowers in late winter and early spring. This plant has everything going for it: an elegant, architectural look, evergreen toughness, some drought tolerance, adaptability to substantial sun or shade, and – best of all – large sprays of the brightest, sunniest yellow flowers imaginable, appearing from late November through January.
The genus contains about 70 species of evergreen shrubs, which are rather similar to Berberis – in fact, some botanists would like to unite the genera. Most have deliciously scented flowers, but their prime use is to fill inhospitable sites. It grows well in shade and semi-shade, and prefers medium levels of water.
Garrya elliptica makes a remarkably indestructible and attractive evergreen shrub on free-draining soil. It is at its best from midwinter to early spring when it is covered by a mass of dangling grey-green catkins, 15-20 cm (6-8 in) long. If you want even longer catkins, choose ‘James Roof’.
Garrya elliptica can also be grown as a dense bushy hedge, but should only be pruned and kept in shape once the display of catkins has finished. It grows ell in seaside gardens, but does not make a windbreak because it needs a sheltered position. When exposed to a flaying wind, it suffers badly.
Calliandra is a popular plant in the U.S. but rarely grown in Great Britain. The leaves are made up of a large number of segments and the flowers are made up entirely of stamens. It blooms in winter and the ‘powder-puffs’ last for 6-8 weeks.
Calliandra inaequilatera has bright red flowers and dark green foliage. A better choice is the hardier Calliandra tweedii – the flowers are smaller and the leaves are feathery. Calliandra surinamensis has perfumed pink powder-puff and tiny, fine leaves. It’s hardy, compact rounded bush. Calliandra haematocephala has vivid pink, big powder-puff flowers from October to May. Native to Bolivia, this plant becomes a small tree with many-segmented, eight-inch leaves. Calliandra californica gets 6 ft. x 6 ft. in an open, vase-shaped shrub and red puffball flowers. Its dark green leaves are like tight miniature ferns, overshadowed by red spikey flowers.
Once the summer flowers are over, conifers come into their own, both as a contrast to the colors of deciduous trees and shrubs, and later as welcome green features through the winter. There is a conifer for every size garden; they vary from neat, mounded dwarf forms, slow-growing, slim-line vertical trees which eventually reach 3m (10ft) high, to others with beautiful grey-blue foliage to monsters which grow 30m (100ft) high.
They can be used to provide a wide range of effects including windbreaks on the garden boundary, ornamentals for their shape and colored foliage, and architectural features adding extra interest from fall to spring. They can be very effective in formal Italian or Eastern-style gardens.