Once upon a time, when we let the Camps Bay house, the new tenants said – you’ll have to cut that back so we can see the sea! It smells good, honey flowers. Looks good, ‘sage’ leaves. And it grows good – ideal as a screen. So it was on my short list when we moved in here. What shall we plant to cover that wall, the neighbour’s garage, and emergency drain pipe, and twirldry green washing line? Another year should do it!
Most of the year, we can enjoy just the leaves. Sage green / silvery grey and graceful.
Arranged in alternate pairs, on a square stem. The new leaves come out tightly folded with knife pleats, Bundfalten.
Common name sagewood, for the most obvious of reasons. A sage that has aspirations to TREEdom.
Buddleja’s turn today, because that haze of white you can see, doubling the size of the bush – a bouffant beehive – a Fasnachtsperucke – the neon pink or green wig of a circus clown – is not yet flowers, but a MASS of tightly curled buds. The very first flowers are opening.
Bringing the promise of a trail of honey. Follow your nose to the flowers. We once had a self sown Buddleja with gentle mauve flowers and a most wonderful fragrance. Tried to bring cuttings with us, but they didn’t make it. Comes in any colour, so long as it ranges from white thru to purple.
I only notice now as I write this, that Buddleja is actually written with a J not an I.
Buddleja and Nuxia share the Loganiaceae family with Strychnos. Curare, nux-vomica and strychnine. But the first two are the White Sheep in the family. Buddleja was named for the Rev. Adam Buddle, an English botanist of the 17th century. 'salviifolia' because the leaves look like Salvia farinacea. Found growing on forest margins, rocky hillsides and stream banks – throughout South Africa and all the way up to tropical Africa. PlantZAfrica says fresh or dried leaves can be used to make tea, but I drink real tea, so haven’t tried this one.
First the flowers draw bees and butterflies, then the birds, in search of lunch. The wood was used to make shafts for assegais (traditional spears) and ‘excellent’ fishing rods. ‘Fast-growing, untidy, prone to insect attacks’ (Unless you are a wildlife gardener, seeking out Those Insects!)
Facts from PlantZAfrica buddlsalv and Keith Coates Palgrave – Trees of Southern Africa 1983.
Most commonorgarden Buddlejas (formerly Buddleia) are varieties of Buddleja davidii which comes from China – Kristo Pienaar – The South African What Flower is That? 1984
Pictures by Jurg and Diana, words by Diana of Elephant's Eye