Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In my butterfly garden...

Even if you are indifferent to these little creatures, but want nice hardy perennials that are prolific bloomers, you can't go wrong with all varieties of the butterfly bush or lantana. Every summer I can count on both returning, each year with more ferocity than the last. I have a few different types of both plants. Lantana ranges in color from vivid oranges, to yellows, to yellow/pink, to a beautiful lavender with silvery foliage. The latter variety is a bit more compact in my garden, and trails low to the ground. I had a lovely whitish/lemon colored lantana last summer (called "lemon sorbet" it was gorgeous...), but it fell victim to deadly round-up- my husband is round-up crazy, and sometimes fails to ask before he sprays. Beware of this systemic killer!! But seriously, if you are on a budget and want fail-proof plants, lantana it is. Some of my orange and yellow/pink varieties have grown into full-on shrubs. It would be most cost-effective to buy them when they are on clearance in the garden center at the end of the summer, and plant them then or in the fall.

The butterfly bush will quickly grow in to a tree if you let it. With flower clusters ranging in hue from deep purple with brilliant orange throats, to silvery lavender clusters with yellow-orange centers, these plants are practically indestructible. One year one of mine was invaded by a pest mid-summer. I treated it and then chopped it down to the trunk. By fall it had grown back and was producing blooms as if nothing had happened.

Two of my favorite plants, creating a gorgeous summer spectacle.

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