Party Time at the Buddleja - You Know You Want a Butterfly Bush!
It's Party Time
From sun-up to sun-down, it’s one rollicking party at the Buddleja. The daily customer turnover is freakishly huge, with patrons gorging themselves on free drinks and snacks. Every once in a while, some of the partiers get so loaded that they fall down and have a good deal of trouble getting back up. The other day, one of them packed so many snacks in his leg sacks, he lost his balance, fell off a flower, and dropped onto my glass-topped patio table. He was quite a sorry sight--flat on his back, legs kicking and wings whirring. I was about to go over and give him an assist, when he managed to right himself and get airborne. He looked like he wanted to make a bee line to the hive to unload his stash, but all he could achieve was a low-flying, crazy, crooked path. I watched him disappear around a corner of the house. I wished him good luck.
Usual Traffic at the Buddleja - Never a Dull Moment
I opened the Buddleja a few years ago with an astonishingly small investment of 20 USD. I don’t know of any bar and eatery that can make that claim, at least not these days. From the moment I opened , I had curious and enthusiastic patrons. Word got out quickly among the bee, butterfly, and moth networks, which apparently work faster than phone or Facebook. All flew in for the free food and drink, and also for the socializing. I guess you can say the Buddleja got good traffic from the beginning.
Most guests at the Buddleja have a bit more grace and couth than that carpenter bee who fell on his back. They move from one snack or drink to another with ease, being mostly respectful of a fellow patron’s personal bubble. On the other hand, some socialize with either procreation or aggression in mind. It’s interesting to watch their interplay.
Who Are These Buddleja Patrons?
By now you know I’m not talking about a new bar in my neck of the woods, but about the butterfly bush in my backyard.
The butterfly bush draws an impressive variety of patrons, not all of which are butterflies and moths. Where I am, in southeastern Pennsylvania in historic Bucks County, I welcome these special guests every season.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies
Hummingbird Hawk Moths
Skipper Butterflies (Skipperjacks)
The Rangy Butterfly Bush
The First Comprehensive Book on Buddleja
You Know You Want Your Own Buddleja - Butterfly Bush FAQs
Before you commit to a buddleja in your garden to enjoy the incredible wildlife this plant invites, you need to know these things:
- Butterfly bushes are considered pests, meaning, they will thrive just about anywhere to the point of being invasive. This also means that they are easy to grow.
- They are not very good-looking plants. They get rangy, their dead blossoms interfere with the colors of the new blossoms, and they are, overall, shaggy, at best.
- Butterfly bushes seed themselves. Once you have a happy bush, you will find "babies" all over your garden in the spring. I've nurtured some of these, finding a place in my garden for them, but then gave them up, because...
- Buddleja needs severe hacking in the spring. It needs to be cut back to 12 inches or so in the early spring, before new growth starts. By the time a butterfly bush is three or four years old, you almost need a chain saw for the task.
- Butterfly bushes come in an astounding variety of colors. Shades of purple and lavender, yellow, white, and pale pink. But if someone breeds a red one, I'm going to be on that!
- Dig a five-dollar hole for a one-dollar plant. Treat your butterfly bush like a tree when you plant it.
- Check out this great hub for more information on butterfly bushes.
- The Buddleja Garden is a lovely site from the UK full of images, information on cultivation and varieties, and links to helpful resources. The site authors know what they are doing!
Closing Time at the Buddleja
Butterfly bush visitors are quite sensible about when to call it quits. The party’s over when the sun goes down. There’s no need to holler “last call” and hammer a gong before a closing time determined by law. Everybody knows when to go. With any luck, that bee who didn't have very good judgment won't get a citation for FWI* or overloading a vehicle. Most patrons will be fine and come back tomorrow for another party.
Now it’s time for you to have your cocktail, perhaps with a bit of candlelight to catch the flowers’ reflections in the table’s glass top.
*FWI - Flying While Intoxicated
Who Wouldn't Love This Bar? Doesn't the hmmmm, hmmm sound like a bee?
No Cover Charge, No Charge for Drinks and Snacks
Although everything at the Buddleja is free, I do ask that patrons deposit their eggs and build their hives nearby. I want plenty of new customers next season.
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