A Spiraea with Fragrant Blue Flowers?

Image if you can - a new selection of Japanese Spiraea

One with blue flowers ...
that's fragrant ...
that blooms from mid-summer to frost ...
that attracts butterflies ...
Can it be true? Does such a plant exist?

The answer is NO and YES.

No - there is no such thing as blue flowered Spiraea. I’ve looked.

Yes - there is a plant that has the same neat mounded habit as a Japanese Spiraea and that has loads of fragrant blue flowers. What is it?

Lo and Behold‘Blue Chip’ - A new Butterfly Bush (Buddleia hybrid).

Personally I have a love hate relationship with Butterfly Bush. I love the bright colors, I love the sweet fragrance, I love the long bloom time, I love the flock of dancing butterflies that it attracts and I love that it’s easy of grow.

But at the same time, I hate that it can look so darn scraggly and beat up. Let’s face it people don’t know how to prune buddleia and with time the plant can look really bad! I also hate seeing the blown out - overgrown containers that some growers put out on the market. One day you have a really nice looking three gallon, but the next day you have a tangled mess on you hands. Buddleia can grow too fast for it own good.

But now, Lo & Behold ‘Blue Chip’ is about to change the way we think about buddleia and how we use it in the garden and in the landscape. Credit for this revolutionary breed goes to Dr. Dennis Werner of The J. C. Raulston Arboretum . This is the first of a series of dwarf and compact plants that will be sold in the Lo & Behold series name. This remarkable plant is perfectly at home in a perennial garden, it makes a very cool patio container, and it can even be used a mass planted ground cover.

As an added bonus it does not have to be dead-headed to keep on flowering. Normally you have to remove the old flowers on buddleia to keep it looking good and keep it flowering. With this new plant, the new flowers just keep on coming while the old flowers fade away. And if that was not enough, this plant is essentially seedless – you need not worry about stray seedlings popping up around the garden.

Don’t bother asking me where to buy it - because it’s not yet available for sale.
Better independent garden centers will have a limited number of plants in the summer of 2008. There should be wider availability in the spring of 2009. Lo and Behold 'Blue Chip is a Proven Winners ColorChoice flowering shrub, so garden center buyers will have to contact a Gold Key Proven Winners ColorChoice grower if they hope to offer this plant in 2008.

Kudos to Dr. Dennis Werner for redefining the Butterfly Bush.

Little known Ginkgo cultivars from Hungary

During our visit to Hungary we were surprised at the number of unfamiliar tree cultivars of Hungarian origin. I suspect that during its 44 years under communism the country did not have full access to the genetics of the West, and thus nurseries developed their own selections. We saw a good many Hungarian selections of Ginkgo biloba. Here are three Hungarian selections (above) that we had never heard of before venturing into this Eastern European country.

If there are any tree growers reading this, I would suspect that you would find the wide array of Hungarian tree selections quite interesting. You might consider making a trip to Hungary to see for yourself. We saw many interesting Hungarian tree selections including many unique cultivars of Morus, Platanus, Pyrus, Prunus, Salix and Sorbus. We were particularly impressed with the selections of Sorbus. I will post of few of the more interesting cultivars in my next post.

Hungarians are very fond of conifers and most of their gardens feature a wide array of cultivars. Many of these are Hungarian varieties that were selected to be tolerant of high light levels and lime soils. Here is a sampling of some Hungarian conifer selections.
Anything interesting for you? Let's here your comments.

Plant Hunting in Hungary

What a joy it was to spend a week in Hungary, visiting nurseries, plant breeders and botanic gardens. While I am still exhausted, and suffering from jet lag, I am still glowing with joy after seeing good plants, meeting wonderful people, tasting great and unexpected foods and sampling some most unusual local spirits.
First and foremost the Hungarian people were kind, generous and fun. They are a proud people with a rich heritage in architecture, cuisine, plants, beer and wine. Everyone we met insisted that we sample some special Hungarian meal. My goodness, I think I gained 10 pounds on this trip - but I must say that it was well worth it. I took pictures of some of our meals and I expect to share their food with you as well, over the next few posts.

One of the highlights of our trip was a personally guided tour of Budapest at night. The sights were incredible and rich with colored lights reflecting off the mighty Danube River. Statutes, castles, bridges and the sights and smells of Budapest at night made a lasting impression. Oh how sorry I felt for the tourists that missed out on this city in favor of the more routine. Sure Paris is beautiful, but in Budapest we felt as if we had it all to ourselves.

Stay tuned for my next few posts and I will show you the plants we found and some of the food we enjoyed. See you soon. Until then - get out and enjoy your garden. The hydrangea paniculata are in peak autumn color and the caryopteris is in full bloom.