Now here's a plant I'm loving more and more - gentle on the eye, but big on the bee front (I photographed this on Saturday). And seeing a Comma butterfly on it this week too was another reminder that this is a real winner for those who like to see their autumn flower beds buzzing with life.
It's Caryopteris x clandonensis, a chance hybrid from a family of plants that comes originally from Asia. Sometimes known as Bluebeard, it now seems to be popping up in garden centres everywhere, which is great.
It is a little perennial bush, perfect for smaller gardens, that grows to about 4 feet (120cm) high or so, with multiple thin hard stems ringed with these little whorls of lovely blue flowers right now in September.
Even better, it seems to be able to cope whatever the pH of your soil. It just likes a bit of a sunny position in soil that is free draining. It then needs a hard prune in spring, a bit like you might with Buddleia, and up pop a new set of stems ready for autumn.
This one is Grand Bleu, which was rated Very Good in a Dutch growing trial, but the Royal Horticultural Society has done some trials too, and there are plenty of great cultivars out there such as Heavenly Blue, First Choice and Worcester Gold.
If you have Caryopteris in your garden and have found it to work - or not - for wildlife, do let us know.
In my blog I said that I was growing to love Caryopteris. Hearing all your success stories, I'm loving it even more!
I have a very old Caryopteris (for a long time I didn't know what it was called so we always refer to it as the bee bush). I have also taken a seeded cutting of it. On a sunny day it is just heaving with bees.
I have had Caryopteris Heavenly Blue shrubs under my lounge window for many years now - they seed easily and many friends have had seedlings from me. One of the nicest things about them, apart from the bees, butterflies and hoover flies they attract, is the pure blue colour which lasts until the frosts arrive. The sound of the hum of the bees through the open windows in September is a reminder that the shrubs are doing some good as well as bringing enjoyment to the human population!
Sorry about the repeat! Thought my first effort had not worked.
Last year I brought the type Dark Knight (ht and spread 2'4'') after seeing the plants surrounded by bees at a National Trust plant sale area. Once home my small plant was totally ignored by all 'bee-kind' but now it has grown it is the bee's favourite.
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