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Garden Design

Kaleidoscopic colour

Abelias are popular ornamental shrubs that often provide a blaze of colour through summer. This genus is named in honour of Dr Clarke Abel (1780-1826) who corresponded with the English botanist Sir Joseph Banks and served with the British embassy in China where he worked on many naturalist observations. Abel was a surgeon by profession but also achieved fame in botanical and geological circles. It’s always great to learn something new about plant names, the history of how something obtained its name is often as fascinating as the plant itself.

Kaleidoscope foliage with flower

Abelias are often used for low informal hedging but can look equally impressive when planted alone as a feature. Most species are quite bushy in habit and offer glossy leaves borne on slightly arching branches. Their foliage is often a feature that can alter both with age and with the seasons for some great colour contrasts.

David Hyatt

David Hyatt

Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’ is a great example of this. Bred in the USA by plant breeders at Panoramic Farms in North Carolina. The team at Panoramic is passionate about the art and science of plant propagation and have a strong work ethic – always in pursuit of excellence. Interestingly, co-inventor David Hyatt, graduated from college with a music degree and maintains that the discipline he learnt in pursuit of his degree has had a tremendous impact on his career as a nurseryman.

‘Kaleidoscope’ was selected for its unique ever-changing foliage colour. In spring, the new variegated growth emerges bright yellow with a light green centre and gradually turns golden yellow with a deep green centre in the summer months. By autumn you can enjoy bright oranges and reds in the foliage which lasts throughout the winter months.

Kaleidoscope foliage 1

Kaleidoscope feature 1There is great webpage dedicated to this little beauty. Have a look at www.abeliakaleidoscope.com and you’ll see further great examples of the colours of this winning plant. If you get pleasure out of just looking at great plant photography, it’s well worth a look. This is a great plant to use as a specimen, if you are playing around with imagery, due to its foliage tones. ‘Kaleidoscope’ is also reported to be the longest blooming of all the Abelias – with neat white flowers appearing from late spring throughout the summer and even into autumn.

K‘Kaleidoscope’ has been a staple in the Australian market for some time, being a reliable performer. It holds up well in the summer heat without burning and scorching and also performs well in Australian winters. Add a few to your garden if you are defining the edge or a path or garden bed. You can trim them for a formal style or let them grow over edges for that more natural look. Think about what you plant around them as you can have a lot of fun playing with colour contrasts.

Kaleidoscope feature 2

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Julie Thomson
10 years ago

Fantastic photos, Amanda and those kaleidoscope abelias look amazing. I am going to pull up my driveway entrance garden tomorrow and make room for some. Interesting fact about David Hyatt being a musician turned nurseryman. At our garden club last week the speaker was a nurseryman who was a rock ‘n’ roll drummer in a former life. Some common thread there, perhaps.

Amanda Mackinnon
10 years ago

Yes, I always find ‘the stories behind the plants’ fascinating. It’s amazing where new plants come from.