Two of the sweetest perennials in my July garden are exceedingly easy to grow. First there is the silvery-leaved, blue-flowered lavender, Lavandula angustifolium, a must-have plant for anyone with deer, rabbit or woodchuck problems; next, the angelic Buddleja davidii, or butterfly bush (above), with fragrant, arching spires of purple, pink or white. If you are the kind of person who enjoys beauty without fuss, these two “easies” probably belong in your garden, too.
Lavender. It seems that both men and women enjoy the scent of lavender in equal measure. Deer, rabbits and woodchucks, however, do not. It makes a fine edging for a border, one that rabbits will not climb over in order to reach other, more tempting perennials and annuals. I use mounds of ‘Munstead’ lavender to protect a border of zinnias, cosmos and geraniums.
Culture: Full sun, poor soil, and water during times of severe drought are all that lavender requires to thrive. Prune out dead growth in early spring.
My favorite varieties are ‘Munstead’ (above), ‘Hidcote,’ ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence,’ all of which grow no taller than 18 inches. They are winter-hardy, too, in zones 5-8.
Buddleja (often misspelled “Buddleia”). Carefree and pest-proof too is the butterfly-bush, Buddleja, which we should properly pronounce BUD-lee-ah. Because of its tremendous size — often six feet tall and and about as wide — it does require a considerable amount of room. A pair of purple ‘Dubonnet’ buddlejas flank a white hydrangea on the first terrace of my Serpentine Garden. What a glorious effect this trio makes from July through frost. Dubonnet’s coneshaped flowers – some of them 14-inches long – are honey-scented, and wonderful for cutting.
Culture: Buddleja requires the same care as lavender — and that means no care at all. When the plant dies back in the fall, cut stems down to the ground.
Easy-easy are these two fragrant and drought tolerant plants that do, in fact, take care of themselves. By all means grow them if you live amongst furry creatures, or if your garden activities must be limited to weekends-only.
Now, I have a question for you: what sort of beverage (or food item) do you think would benefit from an infusion of lavender? (I sense a lavender-related recipe coming on…)