It’s easy to see why butterflies have an appeal despite being bugs. The gentle, unthreatening way they move around and the diverse and spectacular colouring of the wings of some.
We have inherited a plethora of buddleia and it’s no wonder they are known also as “butterfly bushes”. I can’t remember seeing as many different butterflies before, outside of a butterfly house. They come to drink nectar out of the buddleia blooms; great tortoiseshells, peacocks, red admirals and painted ladies.
I read that it’s a favourable English Summer for painted ladies, a once-in-a-decade abundance partly due to the wind. Who’d have thought a good wind would benefit such fragile wings? It’s a long flight from North Africa otherwise.
The buddleias come from China. Originally, I mean. Ours probably came from a garden centre down the road. Probably just one or two as they are demons for self-propagation, as any trip along a railway in town will show you. They’re not fussy about where they settle in, even growing out of the sides of viaduct brick walls. Railway maintenance consider the species a nuisance.
We take out several plants leaving a few choice specimens where we can see the butterflies from our window, or from seats in the garden. Buddleias need attention, maintaining a good, constrained shape rather than a gangly, overbearing upstart. Pruning and dead heading also encourages fresh blooms, and more butterflies. That’s what you want – a butterfly bush.