It may be somewhat surprising to know that buddleia, that well known shrub sometimes called the butterfly bush, is not native but was introduced in the late nineteenth century from its original homes in China and Russia.

Since then, this most welcome addition to our flora has become naturalised throughout Britain.

Buddleia is named after Adam Buddle, a clergyman who wrote a book on English flora way back in 1708.

Seeds are windborne and lodge in crevices at the top of buildings, on so called 'wasteland' and along railway embankments and in fact anywhere provided that the soil is not too heavy.

The wild lavender coloured fragrant flowers grouped in panicles on long tapering spikes are most attractive to insects, especially butterflies including red admiral (pictured), small tortoiseshell and peacock, but the cultivated varieties of white and dark purple seem to be visited less.   

Over many years my garden has played host to two buddleia, both of which reached a height of about eight feet but both eventually succumbed during a period of drought.

Growth is rapid so anyone wishing to attract butterflies to their garden would do well to plant one.

Some years ago a pair of mistle thrushes even nested in my buddleia and successfully raised a brood.

With much foliage parched and flowers wilting in the heat, buddleia provides a lifeline for butterflies and bees and moths at night.