Posted: Tuesday 26 August 2014
by James Alexander-Sinclair
It's still holiday season (just). A time for lazing around, recharging one's batteries, eating interesting cheeses and admiring different places.
It's still holiday season (just). A time for lazing around, recharging one's batteries, eating interesting cheeses and admiring different places. However, gardeners never fully turn off. We always notice plants, especially plants we haven't met before or plants that are used in different ways in different places.
A case in point: I've just been on a slightly eccentric trip from Birmingham to Edinburgh (where there was a very handsome floral clock in Princes Street Gardens) and then on to France. I was near Bordeaux if you want to know, and very lovely it was - especially if you like wine. Almost every available surface is covered with very beautifully trimmed and trained vines.
Some of the bits that weren't vineyards, parks, restaurants, front gardens etc., were often bordered with hedges planted with Abelia grandiflora. This is a very pretty shrub with (if you're lucky) semi-evergreen foliage. However, in many parts of England they're a little tender for a reliable hedge. They come over all deciduous. They grow fast (to about 2.5m - although they respond well to pruning if that's too tall for you) provided they get good sunshine and a decent soil.
The plant was first bred in the late nineteenth century in Northern Italy. It flowers from June to October (which is pretty impressive) with delicately scented pink blooms and a sort of pinky tinge to the leaves which adds a little 'je ne sais quoi' to the occasion. I did warn you that I'd been in France. Eh bien.