Posts tagged ‘Buddleia Weyeriana’

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!

April 28, 2013

Buddleia Weyeriana

28 April 2013

Buddleia Weyeriana

Buddleia Weyeriana

One of my favourite buddleias is the Weyeriana. This is a cross between the “ordinary” buddleia davidii and the buddleia globosa – the one with balls of orange flowers. It was achieved early in the twentieth century by Major William Van de Weyer, of Smedmore House, Corfe Castle, Dorset, which is not that far from where I live. It has given rise to a few variations on the theme, some of which are more yellow/orange and others of which are  more cream/orange; the most common species available at the moment seem to be ‘Sungold’ (more yellow) and Moonlight (more cream). I think both photos here are ‘Sungold’ – the apparent difference in colour is just a difference in camera and lighting.  As ever, there are numerous differently-named Weyeriana cultivars, the differences between which most of us would be hard put to recognise, but if you like being confused, have a look at http://www.buddlejagarden.co.uk.

I wouldn’t have it as my only buddleia for attracting butterflies: overall, the purple and white ones are better. Butterflies will use Weyeriana, though, and its big advantage is that it goes on flowering very late – October or November, depending on frosts: not many flowers, but if there are late butterflies around, these blooms are a very valuable nectar source. In my experience, you can cut Weyeriana back hard, just like the ordinary buddleia, so although it can become a large bush if left – mine is about 10′ (3m) at the moment – it does not have to be huge.

Comma butterfly on buddleia Weyeriana 'Sungold'

Comma butterfly on buddleia Weyeriana ‘Sungold’