July tips and advice

Garden wild’ with species and varieties of buddleia and solidago

Buddleia and butterfly webGardening can be just the opportunity we need to ‘break-out’ from the restrictions of everyday life. The wilder garden is a great way of fulfilling the desire to create a refuge at home – your own personal haven. Plant-filled paradises on backyard plots are becoming the dream of more and more people and you don’t have to be an expert to achieve them. With plants like the shrub buddleia and perennial solidago you can create a wonderland of flowers and foliage with only basic gardening skills. What’s more, they won’t keep you up at night worrying if you can water and care for them – they’re tough.

As high summer comes around again and school closes for the long break, plants such as Buddleia davidii (also known as Butterfly bush) are superb for keeping children entertained. Sweet smelling flowers will draw in the butterflies for a refreshing drink of nectar. Children love learning to identify their Peacocks from their Tortoiseshells and Painted Ladies. Encourage them to ‘stake out’ the bush and note down what they see. Why not invest in a field guide to help them and perhaps even get into it yourself?

A good strong variety like ‘Black Knight’ (dark purple flowers) or ‘Royal Red’ will act as a magnet for numerous species of butterfly. Other good choices are the stylish ‘White Profusion’, with its huge, fragrant blooms or the delightful ‘Fascinating’ which produces lilac-pink flowers. Each of these flowers from summer into autumn.

Solidago, also known as Golden rod because of the golden-yellow of the flowers and upright growth has the untamed look of the prairies about it and is great at surviving dry, challenging conditions as a result. If you’ve got an exposed, windy place in your garden borders, on poor or sandy soil, a stand of solidago could just the answer as it will thrive in full sun in this sort of situation. As a perennial, once established it will perform year after year.

Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’ is a great option to look out for, with its bright yellow flowerheads. It reaches up to 75cm in height. ‘Crown of Rays’ is another winner. It’s a clump-forming perennial which can reach 60cm in height and produces golden yellow flowers. ‘Cloth of Gold’ is extremely floriferous, bearing deep yellow flowers and reaching up to 74cm in height. Solidago caesia reaches up to 1m, has bluish-grey stems and golden flowers from late summer to autumn.

Shrub buddleia must be cut back hard in early spring to stimulate strong new growth. Beyond that, it will take care of itself. Solidago too is a low-maintenance plant, but can spread too easily. To limit this, cut out stems that have flowered before they seed. They make great additions to cut-flower arrangements.

This pair of plants goes really well together because of their wild look and suitability for more naturalistic ways of planting. They suit many of today’s challenges (such as drought) and chime with the desire that many of us have to make more space for wildlife and to create in our gardens situations where the whole family can get up close to nature.

Material courtesy of www.the-hta.org

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