Posts tagged ‘Buddleia Dartmoor’

August 17, 2013

Which buddleia do butterflies prefer?

17 August 2013

I’ve spoken in a previous article about the buddleia trial going on in Dorset and the first year results.  This suggested ‘Dartmoor’ (bright purple, huge flower heads), ‘Autumn Beauty’ (Lavender colour, late flowerer) and ‘White Profusion’ (white!) were top as far as the trial had gone at that point, though as all the bushes in the trial were not fully mature, this may change. What I didn’t discuss, however, was the impact of where they are planted.

Butterflies need warmth to function: that’s why you so often see them sitting on paving stones, walls etc: they are soaking up the heat from whatever they are sitting on, plus the rays of the sun (if it’s out) directly. Many of the species in Britain are at the far northern edge of their natural range, so they don’t always find the warmth they need, though it is possible there are some changes underway due to climate change. The impact of this on their choice of buddleia is as simple as whether the bush is in the shade or in the sun.

Six Peacocks in the sun on buddleia Weyeriana.

Six Peacocks in the sun on buddleia Weyeriana.

This has been being brought home to me recently by watching the butterflies on two buddleias I’ve got close together. Usually, I’d say that they would prefer ‘Lochinch’ (lavender-coloured flowers set off nicely by rather more silvery leaves than usual) to Weyeriana, which is pale orange – see the article I did on it back in April. However, my Weyeriana is now very tall – 12-15′ (4m+) I’d guess, so it’s getting sun for most of the day, especially on its top flowers. the photo above illustrates this – it isn’t a particularly good photo, because I was pointing the camera way above my head and into the light.

‘Lochinch’, by contrast, is in shade for quite a bit of the day, as you can see below, thanks to a laurel hedge becoming rather over-enthusiastic. The results are obvious: I’ve counted up to nine Peacocks, six Red Admirals, two Commas and numerous Whites on the Weyeriana simultaneously, while at the same time there were only 2 Peacocks, 2 Red Admirals and the odd White on the ‘Lochinch’.

Two Peacocks in the shade on buddleia 'Lochinch'.

Two Peacocks in the shade on buddleia ‘Lochinch’.

So – if you are thinking of planting a buddliea, or another buddleia (and please do), it need to be in the sunshine – or let it grow very tall, but then don’t expect to be able to take good photographs of the butterflies enjoying it!

February 19, 2013

The best buddleia for butterflies

19 February 2013

I promise this blog isn’t going to be only about buddleias, but at this time of year, when there isn’t much to report in the way of butterfly sightings or goings-on in the garden, it seems a good time to discuss one of the questions I get asked most – which buddleia is best for butterflies? Work is going on in Dorset to identify the best buddleias for attracting butterflies. It is still in its early stages, but the current indication is that the top variety is ‘Dartmoor’: a bright purple variety, which has its flower heads partially merged, so they are very big.

Small Tortoiseshells on buddleia 'Dartmoor'

Small Tortoiseshells on buddleia ‘Dartmoor’

Second was ‘Autumn Beauty’ (also known as ‘Beijing’). This is a useful variety, as it blooms a bit later than most; it is also useful for schools, so they do not find all the flowers gone over when they getback from their summer break. It is a paler, pinker purple.    

Three Small Tortoiseshells on buddleia 'Autumn Beauty'

Three Small Tortoiseshells on buddleia ‘Autumn Beauty’


Third was ‘White Profusion’.

If the above text isn’t as coherent as I hope it usually is, it’s because I was interrupted by my husband and a friend arriving in a great flurry. They were helping out at a local event, and the electrical sockets in the building proved to be not working, leaving them with 60 people wanting tea and coffee, and no power to boil kettles. We live not far away, so they brought down two kettles to add to our one, tried to boil all three at once, and promptly blew our fuse – which crashed my computer. Chris and John – if you read this, you owe me a “like”!