About a half-century ago Reginald Farrar discovered the butterfly bush or buddleia in Kansu, China. Every June this delightful shrub becomes a purple waterfall of fragrant flowers.
Prune immediately after flowering or by picking the blossom sprays for the house. Plant in a rich, well-drained soil, and sunny location. While the blooms open in profusion in June they also continue the rest of the summer. They attract myriads of butterflies, especially in late autumn, hence the name.
Spirea is another “immigrant” from the Himalayas. From English gardens comes the variety Spirea arguta, the garland spirea, a foolproof hardy sort. Give sun, rich loam, moist location, and in June it is transformed to a tumbling mass of white flowers. The mahogany red seed pods in July are equally attractive.
A wicked young woman so beguiled St. Peter with several sprays of meadowsweet, so runs the tale, that he inadvertently let her slip into heaven. Spirea was also a Middle Ages “strewing herb,” and Queen Elizabeth’s favorite. With this they “strewed her chambers withal.” The Rose of Sharon, originally from Syria, suggests the great hibiscus flowers of the tropics.
Large blooms appear in July or August and continue forming on and off till frost. Give the plant full sun, well-drained soil. It needs no pruning, attracts no bugs, makes a fine hedge. The flowers of the newer varieties are like large saucers, and nearly five inches across. They are in white splashed with red, blue, deep scarlet, and pure white. Blue Bird is an especially beautiful blue one.
Hybrid lilacs are perhaps larger and lusher and more dramatic than the common sorts, but some are less fragrant. Persian lilacs and French lilacs are but two of the many classes to choose from, but none excel in fragrance the old-fashioned garden lilac so prevalent around the early New England homes.
When spring is really here the saucer magnolia unfolds flowers from gray twigs. The large, exotic blossoms, purple outside and white within—tropical in appearance—have a delicate fragrance. They smell sort of the way a lemon drink makes you feel—fresh and cool.
Though of Asiatic origin, they thrive here, preferring rich and porous soil. The best time to transplant them is, strangely enough, when they are in flower. The delicate roots will best survive bruising when in the midst of growing. Likewise, prune in the growing season.
In early June the doublefile virburnum unfurls great flat plates of flowers. The horizontal branches are covered with a perfect mosaic of blossoms with spidery sunburst centers. When fully out they completely obliterate the shrub, and resemble a fall of snow. Fine berries and autumn color are added assets.
The flowers of mockorange smell like pineapples growing in the sun. Large or small, double or single, they make graceful bouquets. In Indian country the straight new shoots of the mockorange were avidly sought by the young women. Being light in weight the shoot could be woven into excellent back shafts.
The ingenious chiefs also used mockorange for both tobacco pipes and stems. They cut a six or eight-inch piece from the bottom of a shoot where it widened out to form a bowl. How did they clean out the pith without breaking the branch?
By imprisoning the grub of a beetle in one end. With backward escape impossible, mock orange ate his way through the soft pith to the other end. The stem was thus hollowed, and the wider end ready to be stuffed with tobacco.