Tuesday, 24 February 2009

pruning buddleias

February is the moth for pruning buddleia davidii.

In high summer they have put on around eight feet of strong new growth and are flowering fit to burst. On the radio, Test Match Special reports on another dismal season for English cricket, but out in the garden the buddleias are wowing the local butterfly population.

On really good August days, buddleias can shimmer with the ecstatic fluttering wings of feeding comma, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, painted lady and speckled wood butterflies.

By February, the plant is ready to start the season's work again and so its stems need to be cut hard back.

And thus produces a problem for the sustainable gardener. What can be done with the pile of buddleia stems after pruning?

My answer is to use the prunings in three ways.

  • The stems are robust and strong and so I strip them of their leaves and fleshy sideshoots and save some as garden canes. They work very well supporting flowering plants.
  • The fleshy sideshoots and leaves can be chopped up and composted or used as a mulch.
  • The flexible stems can be woven into hurdles to retain mulches. This is particularly useful when blackbirds or pesky hens go scritch-scratching in the mulches for tasty treats and leave me to clear up the mess. As the hurdles decay, they are useful hidey places for insects and creepy crawlies.

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