Peterborough, where I live, is one of those towns where buddleias seem to grow with especially wild abandon, springing up everywhere and becoming a troublesome weed – my neighbours currently have one growing from the wall of their house, 20ft up. However, I love them, especially now: before the first and largest flowerheads fade and look unsightly. A head count in my garden reveals I have eight at the moment. In the front there is an old Buddleja davidii seedling; nothing special, so every year I consider its removal. Then the butterflies arrive and my heart melts – it attracts more than any other buddleia I have, and is the only one on which I have seen hummingbird hawk moths. Is it the plant or the position?
In the back are some choice selections. Buddleja ‘Lochinch' (silvery leaves and pale mauve foliage; fairly compact),
B. davidii ‘Black Knight' (deservedly popular with dark purple flowers; seems to go over quickly), B. ‘Dartmoor' (fantastic near-weeping habit with chunky flower panicles; a good pink-purple, too), B. x weyeriana (delicate yellowy-orange; less vigorous but with flowers until November),
B. ‘Pride of Hever' (interesting hybrid which is newish with me, but super with long, open, flower panicles of a rich purple; I am growing it as a wall shrub),
B. agathosma (a foliage plant with massive silver leaves; pink flowers in winter; it's a bit tender, so I also grow this on a wall).
Under glass is tender B. asiatica with long, sweetly scented cream and yellow racemes.
It is those with clear flower colours that I especially like, although I am less keen on the white ones: they soon look shabby once older flowers fade.
The trouble is that my garden is small and yet I still hanker after at least another four: B. davidii ‘Royal Red' (wonderful ruby-red flowers); B. ‘Pink Delight' (huge panicles of girly-pink); B. ‘Bicolour' (mauve flowers with orange eyes); B. colvelii ‘Kewensis' (really lovely with weeping panicles of individually large flowers). Is it wrong to plant so many of what are really rather coarse shrubs? Should I really be planting Eucryphia or choice hydrangeas for my summer flowers? I don't know, but the more I think about it, the future of that buddleia in the front looks shaky!