Olearia nummularifolia is an interesting, fragrant and easy to grow ever green shrub.
It has tiny, thick, leathery oval leaves and a much branched stem with a generally upright habit. During July and August the tips of its stems are covered with intensely fragrant (if a little scruffy looking) white flowers.
It is hardy in the UK and tolerant of salty winds, making it an ideal low maintenance shrub for seaside gardens. It needs no pruning and is not at all unruly.
It propagates easily from cuttings – most easily if you keep the growing medium a little on the dry side – but it is slow growing, so you need to be prepared to wait for a shrub of substance to grow! It will never be super-sized anyway, generally only growing to 2m in height at most.
Eric and Ron, or Erigeron glaucus if you prefer, is one of my favourite low-growing, summer flowering seaside plants. It is also known as sea fleabane and beach aster. It thrives in poor, light seaside soils and quickly spreads to form a mound of slightly greyish (hence glaucus) leaves, each plant easily spreading to cover a two foot square.
In this area, they usually flower from late May through to August. The flowers are lovely. They are typical daisy-like composites with pale purpley-pink-mauve rays around the outside and a golden coloured centre (the disc). The flowers are 2cm to 3cm across and there are masses of them, making an attractive display.
Eric and Ron isn’t completely hardy, although several sites say it is. I lost one bunch of mine completely in the hard winter a couple of years ago and frequently they will be damaged by frost, but not sufficiently much to kill them. The plants’ natural habitat is in coastal California and Oregon.
Last week, I was working in a coastal garden and cutting back clumps of Eric and Ron that had grown long and straggly and suffered from a little bit of frost damage. They respond well to cutting back, especially at this time of the year, just as they are beginning to grow again. An added benefit is that they smell delicious as they’re cut; something a little bit like fresh fruits and amber mixed together.
Whilst chopping them back, I also took cuttings: some stem and some tip, to see how they do.
In brief Erigeron glaucus is:
robust, but not completely hardy
requires little maintenance
thrives in seaside conditions
said to be good for bees and butterflies (I haven’t particularly noticed this)