Buddleias and Butterflies…

I wasn’t as rigorous as I should have been with the pruning of my various Buddleia bushes this Spring. I had done a cursory cutting back in the winter, just so that branches were shorter and less liable to damage by the wind. But, as the winter was mild, (and I was still in London in late February when I would normally have done it). Arriving back, the shrubs were in full leaf and I didn’t have the heart to cut all of that growth off…

Result being that most of my Buddleias have almost finished flowering, when they really should just be starting. They are such an invaluable late Summer food plant for so many Butterflies, and having them almost guarantees sightings of most of my garden’s regulars, that I’m hoping that they’ll still find reasons to visit. I’m deadheading constantly, hoping that I can encourage a later flush of flowers.

So, here are some of my Buddleia bushes, and an assortment of this Summer’s butterflies:

Buddleia davidii ‘Royal Red’. Obviously not ‘red’, rather a wonderful, intense violet/magenta. Not as vigorous or hardy as the bog standard ones, but very special.

Buddleia davidii ‘Dark Knight’. So purple that in some light it assumes a velvety blackness… Again, not as vigorous here as the more common colours, and I’ve had more trouble striking cuttings from this one, (I have got some in a pot from last autumn which seem to have made it.)

By complete contrast. Buddleia weyeriana. Sunny yellow, globes of flowers. A vigorous thug of a plant. Easy to grow and easy to propagate. Mine came originally from a neighbouring allotment in Walthamstow and was one of the first things planted when I started turning my corner of a field into a garden…

And, having said how much butterflies love Buddleia, not a single one of these beauties were photographed on it!

Comma on Bracken.

Purple Hairstreak on Bramble.

Silver-washed Fritillary on Knapweed.

Brown Argus on Sow Thistle.

Map butterfly on dried grass.

Swallowtail on Verbena bonariensis.

So much to show… not all of it good!

It’s been a while and I have oodles of wonderfulness from the garden and beyond, and a few horror stories to balance things out. So this is Part One of a few posts to bring me back up to date.

It was a very hot and dry June and July. Although we didn’t have the absolute nightmare temperatures that the rest of France (and Europe generally) suffered; Brittany was almost the only green – normal – patch on the map during the recent heatwave. But the maximums were still in the 30’s… not normal for here. This place is renowned for its cool, damp and rain whilst the rest of France burns…! Consequently the garden has suffered. Despite the layers of mulch, I think that plants that are just not used to searing heat don’t know what to do when it’s that hot – just like me really. I clung to the shade and wilted the moment the sun beat down on me!

So…what’s been good?

Verbascums and Verbena bonariensis with Bronze Fennel everywhere else just beginning to flower.

Salvia ‘Amistad’ with some Black Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) starting to climb through it. The Salvia is one of the plants I brought back with me from London recently. I’m hoping I’ll be able to overwinter it successfully. I’m going to take cuttings soon to improve my chances.

The Pink Pelargoniums starting to fill out and flower more – the French Marigolds in front of them taking an age to get going…

Looking out to the garden from the house. I’d forgotten it looked this good in July – writing as I am in mid August and wondering where the flowers have all gone.

‘Carouby de Mausanne’ mange-tout peas. Something that the voles haven’t discovered yet – they normally prefer to wait for the peas to be nice and fat before they scoff the lot. Whereas with these I pick them when the pods are still nice and flat.