Buddleja farreri

Location in the Gardens:

Season of interest:

  • Lavender coloured flowers, early flowering (April)

Description of plant:

B. farreri is a deciduous shrub of sparse habit which, left unpruned, grows to a large size. The flowers appear on the old wood before the leaves at the nodes of the previous year's growth, during April in the UK. The lax flower panicles are roughly 20 cm in length and pale lavender in colour. The leaves are initially white, owing to a dense coating of hairs, but ultimately become almost free of hair, with a dark green upper surface while the underside remains white

Ideal growing conditions and habitat:

According to Farrer it:

“hugs only the very hottest and driest crevices, cliffs, walls, and banks down the most arid and torrid aspects of the Ha Shin Fang”

from which it would appear to need all the warmth and direct sunlight we can give it. Like many plants from arid habitats, it is best suited in the eastern counties.

Country of origin:

  • Kansu, China; introduced by Farrer in 1915

Highdown history:

It was raised from seed from Farrer's first expedition in 1914 and was planted in the Gardens in 1915.

In his book 'On the Eaves of the World' Farrer summarised the plant as a “noble bush with ample flannelly foliage,however Bean noted that it is probably the cooler, damper UK climate which prevents the shrub from making the striking display that so impressed Farrer in China.

Other interesting information:

Its flowers are liable to be injured by spring frosts and, being formed in autumn, may be lost in the bud-stage during hard winters. It can be grown on a wall or in a large pot out-of-doors during summer, autumn, and winter, taking it under cover to flower.

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