Plant of the Week: Buddleia x “Lochinch”

All over England, buddleias have been in flower for weeks already, often sprawling over railway embankments and waste ground, or lodged in the mortar of high walls and chimneys to the greater peril of the populace. They are not distinguished plants, by and large: they sprawl thuggishly and their flower spikes go brown and refuse to fall off. But we think fondly of them for the sake of the butterflies they attract, for their scent of childhood holidays and for the colour they bring to the garden in the latter half of summer.

I think that Lochinch is the best of them, with its grey leaves and its straightforward dark purple flowers. It associates very happily with another generous plebeian shrub, Lavatera rosea “Barnsley”, and together they fill the garden with colour until October. Both can be propagated by sticking branches in the ground during winter, and there will be many such branches, since both plants need to be cut back hard in November. “Lochinch” will then begin to sprout new pale grey leaves before Christmas: a substantial addition to its garden worth, reminding you of Spring long before it is due.