A buddleia for autumn

buddleia sailver anniver

I feel a bit like Johnny Appleseed with this one. I have planted it wherever I have gardened in the past 10 years!

We should be very grateful to the few, dedicated, individuals who breed new shrubs. Most of the novel hardy shrubs that appear in garden centres are variegated or naturally occurring mutations that just happen to appear when a shrub is propagated by the thousand or million. Breeding new shrubs from seed is a long term business and as well as time you need a lot of space to grow on all those seedlings to flowering size to see which, if any, are worthy of naming and introducing. Because of the long time scale and the fact that a certain genus may not be popular in ten or 20 years, there is a lot of risk involved.

So it is to his great credit that Peter Moore of Longstock Gardens has produced some of the most important ‘new’ shrubs in recent years including the choisyas ‘Aztec Pearl’, ‘Goldfingers’ and ‘White Dazzler’ and sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’. He has also concentrated on buddleias.

You may think that there are enough buddleias around but most are hybrids of B. davidii and these pose a problem. While conservationists get their knickers in a twist over the idea that a cotoneaster might seed itself into the wild or Himalayan balsam might spread into a river bank, anyone that likes bees and butterflies (and who doesn’t) is encouraged to plant buddleias. Now apart from the fact that buddleias supply nectar for the adult butterflies and do nothing to encourage the necessary (but ugly) caterpillars, B. davidii is an invasive thug. When I was a kid and explored the North Downs, bare patches of chalky soil that were thick with wild orchids were shaded out by thickets of self-seeded buddleias. There cannot be an urban chimney or old shed that doesn’t have at least one buddleia clinging on and any scrap of wasteland is soon a forest of buddleia seedlings.

So what Peter has tried to do is produce sterile buddleias as well as using different species. These sterile plants are not just better because they will not seed everywhere, they give him a commercial advantage because in the USA buddleias are getting a bad name for themselves because they are so invasive.

So, finally, we come to buddleia ‘Silver Anniversary’ (‘Morning Mist’). This sterile hybrid is the result of an inspired cross between the cream-flowered, South African B. loricata and the Himalayan, mauve flowered B. crispa. Neither is the hardiest plant in the world but ‘Silver Anniversary’ combines creamy flowers with attractive, felted, silvery leaves. The flowers are also sweetly fragrant and they are produced from summer right through to winter if the weather is kind.

As the silver leaves suggest, this is a plant for full sun and it is best in well drained, even droughty soil. Because of its looks and its requirements, it is ideal in a sunny raised bed with large herbs, alstroemerias, agapanthus, cistus and other sun lovers. Jut t0 be awkward, I have it with roses ‘Oranges and Lemons’!

The flowers are produced on the new shoots so pruning should be done in spring. You do not have to be quite as vicious as you are with B. davidii, and pruning too hard slows the plant down a bit too much. If you have a cold garden this would be best against a sunny wall and because it is compact and rarely much more than 1m high it would make a nice potted plant that you could bring into the conservatory in late autumn so you can enjoy the perfume.

Geoff’s rating


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4 Comments on “A buddleia for autumn”

  1. sueturner31
    October 22, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Is it now widely available…sounds perfect as I am fed up with next doors untamed 4 mt high weed. Yes 4 mts and counting.

  2. Meriel
    October 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    I also love the Buddleia ‘SilverAnniversary’. I planted my original one in quite the wrong place being too shady – wanting the silver leaves in the spot. I propagated it & planted a good plant in the right sunny spot. It was greatly admired, even mentioned in an article on my garden last year. Shortly thereafter it disappeared when I was away! Whether broken at the base by very windy weather or stolen, I never discovered. Am propagating again from my original plant which I fortunately hadn’t dug up. Buddleia alternafolia is another super shrub.

    • thebikinggardener
      October 28, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

      Good to hear you have tried this one 🙂 I can’t imagine yours blew away but it is terrible if it was stolen! I hope the new one does just as well. Buddleia alternifolia is a great plant too though I think it is only a plant for a large garden. But when covered in a waterfall of lilac it is spectacular. It is a shame that B. davidii is so ubiquitous really because there are lots of other good species. I must admit that I have seen B. globosa more commonly here than in the UK though.

  3. Meriel
    October 29, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Yes B globosa quite common. Personally that’s one I’m not keen on. Something to do with the dull & very coarse foliage. I adore B. x weyeriana ‘Sungold’ though with its greyer foliage & gorgeous soft orange/yellow flowers, thanks to the existence of B.globosa! The most interesting thing, for me, about Buddlejas is that they seem to be deer-proof! I am gradually trying to increase my collection. I currently wish for B. dav ‘Dartmoor’ which I believe flowers for much longer.

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