Beautiful Buddlejas, by Peter Moore

In July we welcomed Peter Moore to Grayshott Gardeners, to talk to us about Buddlejas – something he is very well qualified to do, as keeper of the National Collection of this Genus at Longstock Nursery in Hampshire.  He started developing the collection in 1993, and by sourcing cuttings and seed from around the world has built it up to an impressive display of international acclaim.

Buddlejas get their name from the Reverend Adam Buddle, an English cleric and botanist from the 17th Century.  They are naturally present in all the Continents of the world bar Europe and Australasia, and many of today’s garden plants are hybrids between species from different continents.  Peter has introduced many hybrids himself – including “Pink Pagoda” and “Sugar Plum”.

Peter then took us through what he considers to be the best garden-worthy varieties. He warned us that some species don’t quite live up to their advertising hype.  The Buzz Series, for example, is free flowering but not the dwarf variety that it was initially billed as.  They can reach 2 meters in height – enough to block most windows if planted in a flower bed just outside!

He showed us what a wide range of flower colours are available, from the darkest purple through to magentas, reds and pinks, and they can be upright or have a weeping form.  Leaves can be plain or variegated – and some flowers can be variegated too, like the new introduction “Berries and Cream”.  Most of the garden varieties are hardy in the UK, but a few special ones need a glasshouse to overwinter them successfully.

Peter also gave us tips on how to grow Buddlejas well, in full sun with well drained soil, and how to prune them properly.  He also warned us that the dust they give off can be an irritant, so wear protection when pruning, and better to do it on a rainy day.

It was great to see how, with careful selection, it is possible to have a Buddleja in flower for 10 months of the year – which is great news for the bees and butterflies in our gardens. 

Peter Moore, with Programme Secretary Sue Wheeler