One of the better aspects of being a garden writer is that you get to trial new plants in your own garden a year or more ahead of everybody else. One of the best aspects of being a garden writer is that you get to write about a successful plant. The definition of a successful plant, to me, is one that does what the plant boffins say it will do. Whether or not I like a particular colour or texture is not always the point. Certainly I'll let you know my subjective opinion (read on) using colourful, rather floriferous, adjectives: how could I be a writer if I didn't? However my opinion is secondary to the purpose of the trials.
It pleases me to tell you about Proven Winners “Lo and Behold“, Blue Chip Buddleia. This wee chappie has lived up to its name as a miniature butterfly bush. In my Zone 5 Trenton, Ontario garden, this second year plant is stretching up almost 6" (14 cm) and reaching out 14" (40 cm). The mature height and spread is listed as 24-46 inches (60-90 cm) tall and 30 inches (75 cm). In large shrub borders, Lo and Behold can easily be viewed as a ground cover, especially with the soft almost velvety appearance of the leaves. In smaller gardens it makes a super accent plant and in a garden that needs just a wee spot filled in, it is the finishing touch. My plant is shaded a bit by a paper birch's canopy and flanked by the chartreuse tones of a common ninebark. It is backed by a gold fruit viburnum and a variegated Mohican lantana viburnum- one of which has been munched on by the dreaded viburnum leaf beetle and the other is currently punctured by slugs believe it or not.. Immediately in the fore is a yellow and red gazania grouping on one side and some shocking pink diplodena on the other. The 3 inch flower spikes are a pale, very soft blue. The flowers are almost a triadic combination according to the colour wheel and actually complement each other quite well. (Gentle Reader, I realise that "spike" is not as precise a term to describe the inflorescence (flower) as some of my more strident peers suggest we use but consider this: "Buddleia inflorescences are indeterminate corymbose panicles...(with)... each panicle consisting of individual flowers that mature acropetally from ..." Let's stop there because my brain hurts.) They're cute as a button and don't need deadheading like their larger cousins. The rest of the cultural information is exceptionally non-threatening: average soil, average water, sun, blooms from July to hard frost, zone 5 (Cdn) ,marvellous fragrance and covered in butterflies.
In short this is a delightful plant that will slip into almost any garden design. Your difficulty, GR, will be getting your hands on one. They are available at almost any Proven Winner outlet- just go to the web and type in either Proven Winners or Garden Imports into your search engine to find the store nearest you. Garden Imports is the exclusive importers of this plant into Canada. Even though there are many outlets this plant sells out quickly. Word is getting out.
Here's what you do if you want this plant, call your favourite garden centre or nursery now. This is the time that next year's orders are being pencilled in so this is the time to influence the marketing division with your consumer demand- be polite of course. If they don't get it, you can always get one by ordering on-line. Make sure your on-line source is Garden Imports. 3 years of shipping, more than 34 plants and everyone arrived healthy and ready to go.
And if you think Lo and Behold is cool, right now I have the brand new Miss Ruby establishing itself in a front lawn garden. I can't wait to see what she does.