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Documents: Garden Design:

New Dwarf Blue Buddleia & UK Park Research
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale

email: art@artdrysdale.com

Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at http://www.artdrysdale.com


November 1, 2009

Above, Buddleja ‘Blue Chip’ growing a container. Photo courtesy Color Choice Plants. Below, two parks, the first in Victoria, B.C. right on the inner harbour in front of a condo building, which obviously raises the values of the units within; and another downtown park, this one in Windhoek, Namibia. Author photos.


A new dwarf blue Buddleia is being marketed for next spring, and if you garden in containers, you may want to try and get one; plus new U.K. research proves the value of improving parks systems!

Several new plants for 2010 are already beginning to catch gardeners’ interest--both here in North American, and in Europe. One of them is Buddleja x ‘Blue Chip’ (note the new spelling of the former Buddleia). At the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show it was chosen as the public’s second favourite plant this year.

'Blue Chip' is the first long-flowering, compact, Buddleja that does well in the garden, but is just as suited to a pot on the balcony, terrace or patio. 'Blue Chip' flowers from July through to September with gloriously fragrant, blue-purple flowers. And they don’t just appeal to humans. In good weather, butterflies flutter like a breezy cloud around the bush in search of nectar.

'Blue Chip' is truly a plant that brings joy. If potted, the plant requires little apart from water and feeding. It was developed by Dr. DennisWerner of North Carolina State University. His aim was to produce a compact, not invasive butterfly bush. In the United States, 'Blue Chip' is marketed by Spring Meadow Nursery Inc. And in Canada, GardenImport of Toronto are claiming to be the exclusive distributor, but according to their Website, they are already sold out.

It is being sold in the United Kingdom (at £15.95 [$28 Cdn.] as an established plant in a 3-4 litre container), and in the U.S. by Wayside Gardens for $17.95 US in an 8 cm (3½ in.) pot.

As to hardiness, GardenImport state that it is hardy to zone 5, but since Spring Meadow (the U.S. wholesale distributor) say the same it may or may not be hardy in the Canadian zone 5.

It obviously is perfect for containers that can by situated in sunny areas, since Buddleja love full sun. The plant produces very little seed (said to be 90% infertile) so almost no dead-heading is needed. Ultimate height is expected to be 60 to 90 cm (24 - 36 in.) with a spread of 75 cm (30 in.).

Now, Canadians just have to figure out how you are going to get one up from the U.S.!

* * *

Magda Ibrahim of the U.K. publication Horticulture Week reported in the on-line edition of October 30, 2009 that “Parks experts have welcomed a Scottish study that has found a sevenfold return on investment (ROI) in green space.” Canadian and U.S. parks managers and officials should be very interested!

“Greenspace Scotland has published research showing that every pound [Stirling] invested in a green space scheme returned £7.63 in community benefits.

“The charity worked with Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT) on the Greenlink project, a cycle path running from Strathclyde Country park to Motherwell town centre. As well as quantifying benefits to conservation volunteers working on site, stakeholders including community police and local authority departments were involved. The Social Return on Investment (SROI) study assessed the value of impacts such as a reduction in anti-social behaviour, improved health and activities for children.

“Greenspace Scotland's SROI project manager Ea O'Neill told Horticulture Week the aim is eventually to collate similar information on a national level, but cost is an issue. ‘CSFT had already gathered a lot of information and had conducted two surveys of local residents which we could use,’ said Ea O’Neill. ‘We are trying to get as broad a picture as possible.’

“It is hoped the research can be used by relevant departments in North Lanarkshire Council to leverage more funding to support the Greenlink. The total value calculated during the conservation volunteering project is £976,552. Total investment at the time was £127,906.

“Another project - Pacific Garden, in Govan--was also assessed, but it was not possible to value the impacts accurately because of the greater number of residents involved and the retrospective nature of the research, said Ea O'Neill.

“CABE Space [the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space] head of public space Peter Neal said it was encouraging to see value assessed more broadly than in previous UK studies that focused on health benefits, such as those by Natural England: ‘It is great to start seeing this level of return.’

“Parks consultant Bob Ivison added: ‘We need to get to grips with making these arguments and not just in a green, fluffy way. We need the hard facts and finances.’

“GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill said the research was useful in protecting parks from service cuts. ‘To be able to quantify the impacts is critical,’ he said.

“London Parks & Green Spaces Forum director Tony Leach added: ‘We've been working in a complete vacuum. Now it needs someone to do a bit of brokering with all the organisations like Natural England and the Forestry Commission to pool funding for research.’”

Although not just in ‘tough times’ usually the first place a municipal (or provincial, even federal) budget is cut is in the parks and open spaces areas. Canadian Parks/Recreation Association and other similar provincial groups such as the Ontario Parks Association need to get on this and get similar research undertaken in Canada. Now!

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