I’m starting a new blog series about plant crushes. You know, those moments when you’re walking down the street, or leafing through a magazine, or watching something on TV, and you suddenly fall in love with a previously unknown or unnoticed plant. Everyone does that, right? Anyway… I’m calling that a plant crush.
This month, my plant crush is a gorgeous, but much overlooked, shrub called Abelia x grandiflora. It’s an excellent, easy-to-grow, inexpensive plant that offers a wonderful display at this time of year, when many gardens are lacking in interest.
Abelia is in the same plant family as honeysuckle, which should tell you much. It has a lovely sweet scent when in flower. It’s long flowering, with masses of dainty, trumpet-shaped flowers that are white with a hint of pale pink, set above rusty-pink calyxes. The flowers completely coat the branches from mid-summer through to October.
Grow Abelia in a sunny, sheltered spot by a wall or fence to get the most from it. It’s semi-evergreen, which means it usually keeps its leaves through winter. It can drop all its leaves in a very cold winter, like Privet sometimes does, so do fleece it if you live somewhere that gets very low temperatures. Here in Norfolk, you can just leave it be. And it will grow it in pretty much any soil.
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you, you can even use it for hedging!
Although it can eventually reach a height of 3m, it will happily take even hard pruning. Lightly prune your Abelia in February to maintain its lovely arching habit and keep it neat. If you have a mature specimen, you can remove one in three stems at the base.
Now I just have to find a place for one in my garden. Despite my garden design training, and knowledge that a focused colour palette + limited range of plants = good design, I have crammed an insane number and variety of different plants into my own garden. It’s becoming something of a plant collection, but I like it, and that’s all that matters really. My garden motto: There’s always room for another plant!