Abelia x grandiflora is one of those ubiquitous shrubs that we do tend to take for granted, but they are an excellent choice for Sydney gardens. It is a hybrid between Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora and grows around 1.8-2.4 m tall, with arching burgundy canes with small, shiny, deep green leaves. In summer and autumn, it is smothered in petite, mauve and white blooms, which are held in dusky pink calyces. The calyces persist even after the flowers have fallen, providing continued decorative interest. The foliage turns bronze in autumn and autumn and winter: another bonus. It can be grown in sun or light shade, and tolerates a range of soils. It has no demanding requirements. Pruning in late winter will keep the plant compact. I currently grow a dwarf form, known as 'Compacta' (ht 1m), not being able to find a spot for a larger specimen. I keep it clipped to an informal sphere. I enjoy pairing it with burgundy-hued foliage plants (such as Persicaria 'Red Dragon') to pick up the darker tints of its stems and calyces.
Some cultivars of Abelia have interesting variegated leaves, in shades of white or gold.