Recent name changes are confusing to gardeners. The lovely genus of Veronica changed to Hebe in 1929 and so we have had plenty of time to get used to the name. I rather like it. Hebe was the Goddess of Youth and cupbearer to the gods. She was said to be rather clumsy. She is generally depicted clasping a cup and in rather dishevelled dress. I like the idea of a tipsy goddess staggering round the garden and I always think of her when I look at my hebes. In the eighteenth- century ladies liked to be painted as Hebe. It was probably an excuse to show off their bosoms. A classical pose makes semi-nudity respectable.
Now though, Hebe has been re classified as Veronica so I don’t know what the Hebe Society are doing about that. It must have messed up all their stationery.
To add to the confusion, my favourite Hebe/ Veronica is now neither of these things. It rejoices in the new name of Heliohebe hulkeana. So it is a Sun Hebe. Well at least this gives a good clue as to where to grow it. Apparently, in the wild this lovely plant is unique to New Zealand. It is quite difficult to get hold of. I coveted it in my friend’s garden for a long time and she eventually succumbed to my not so subtle hints and gave me a rooted cutting. It has sprays of the most delicate lavender colour. It needs some room because it likes to sprawl about a bit. It will thrive if it is in a sheltered, sunny spot. I love it. It is a very classy Hebe, (sorry Heliohebe) indeed.