From my kitchen table I am fortunate in being able to admire a shrub growing in a pot on the patio table that is looking glorious at the moment.
Westringia rosemarinformis is an Australian native and commonly known as the Australian rosemary. I was given this plant as a cutting a few years ago and it has grown into a lovely shape. Margaret T has a large shrub growing on the sheltered, south-facing wall of her front garden, where it has thrived for about 12 years.
This is a truly fantastic shrub to grow in London’s dry, sheltered gardens and seems to be completely unknown. Its specialness derives from the fact it flowers during the winter months and will keep on flowering for months afterwards. I imagine Margaret purchased her Westringia from a rare plant fair or specialist nursery years ago.
Westringia is a genus of 25 species, found all over Australia and comprised of rounded to erect specimens from dry coastal, heathland or dry forest areas, which make them ideal to grow as rounded shrubs or as hedging in Australian gardens.
In the UK they are regarded more as conservatory plants, but if they are given a hot, sheltered position, they will thrive happily for many, many years. They tend to like a fertile, well drained soil, with sharp sand and compost added to the mix, although I imagine they grow in poor soil in Australia.
The small, lavender-coloured flowers are not scented but I think they have an orchid-like appearance, with contrasting orange stamens. They are exceedingly beautiful to look at in close-up.
Margaret would be happy to supply cuttings to those interested in growing this shrub (contact firstname.lastname@example.org)