Some things can be done at leisure but other things demand to be done right away. Orders have to be shipped in a timely way, and a lot of outdoor gardening tasks have to be done at a certain time of year. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day. When I went out to inspect the garden, I saw that the cyclamens and primroses were in full bloom, the hyacinths were poking their heads up, and the red hellebores were pushing up their new growth. I realized that if I didn’t prune the roses and fruit trees immediately, it would be too late. So prune I did.
After the roses and fruit trees, I started in on a butterfly bush that had become a problem, growing to the height of a tree and encroaching on neighboring vegetation. It was a huge job, and I’m not through yet because I have to go back with a saw to hack away the bigger pieces.
A few years back I planted a tiny sprig of a butterfly bush, a Buddleia species or hybrid, and it’s grown into the monster in question. I am confident that, even with severe pruning, it will again grow huge in no time. I planted it because I’d seen small, well-behaved Buddleia bushes in Europe, and didn’t think about the fact that in the Pacific Northwest everything grows to many times the size it does elsewhere.
Buddleia is native to North and South America, Europe, and Asia, and has been bred and domesticated in gardens throughout the world. I recently learned that it’s considered a “noxious weed” in Washington state, but if given the choice, I’d rather have it growing everywhere than blackberries. Bring on the armies of Buddleia to do battle with the hordes of Himalayan blackberry orcs!
Last spring the butterfly-tree was completely covered with electric purple flowers, and was quite a sight to see. With such colorful flowers, I expected a correspondingly colorful fragrance. However, this particular specimen isn’t the star member of its genus when it comes to scent. Yes, it’s fragrant, but it’s not perfume-worthy. It has its floral facets, including a generic lily-of-the valley type scent along with a bit of heliotrope, but it also has a flat, sour-milky smell along with the florals, and it has a little bit of that “semen” smell that’s characteristic of a lot of shrubs with small white flowers (more on that in another post).
Other butterfly bushes have a pleasant fragrance. There’s a magenta one down the street that has a light, floral fragrance with citrusy notes. There’s an even redder one on the university campus that has a deep, full floral fragrance that’s altogether pleasant, if not really novel. I suppose the moral of the story is that if you want to make sure that your garden shrub has pleasantly fragrant flowers, you need to check it out in bloom before buying it.
[All photos are mine, from my garden]