Butterflies and Buddleia in the Bright Border

It has been scorching for weeks.  Yes, weeks, not days.  We are having a proper summer.  Where you wake up every day and know you can eat breakfast outside, but have to get stuff done before 9am because then it will be too hot to move.

Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’

Phlox is loving it.  As I was standing here, a peacock butterfly landed in front of me on the phlox, and I made squeaking noises as I tried to get the camera to focus on it.  I didn’t.  I had to make do with the lovely flower close-up.

Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’

I utterly love this phlox with Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ behind.

Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’

Let’s gaze upon Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’.  It can take the heat.  I love the red stems.

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

Hemerocallis is also basking.

Hemerocallis fulva ‘Flore Plena’ with Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’, Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’, Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ and Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’ behind.

Clematis has been spectacular this year. This is ‘Princess Diana’.

Clematis ‘Princess Diana’

And I think that this is ‘Etoile Violette’.

Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’

I talked earlier in the week about iridescence.  Here it is again:

Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’

In fact everything in the Bright Border seems to be shimmering in the heat.


I am on the verge of deadheading and removing the older leaves of Alchemilla mollis to keep it looking fresh.  I nearly started there and then, but spotted a little caterpillar so I let it be for now.  I love his whiskers.  You can also see the hairs on Alchemilla mollis.


The roses are between flushes. Phlox, hemerocallis and buddleia are providing the colour.


Euphorbia and crocosmia foliage are providing the green zing.

Euphorbia palustris

Oh, and there’s Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’.  She never stops.

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ with Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’ behind.

I utterly love this combination of Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’ and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’.

Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’ and Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’.

I found a little spider in Hemerocallis ‘Bonanza’.  Which also led me to admire the rich mahogany against the yellow.  More iridescence.


The next wave of crocosmia is about to start.  I think this inherited one is ‘Emberglow’, which is a lovely rich red.  I love anticipating flowers when I see buds like this.  It is lovely to still have new flowers to look forward to.


Phlox paniculata ‘Coral Flame’ starred in Boring….  It is at its peak right now. Please admire the purple centres against the coral pink. This is another favourite colour combo.

Phlox paniculata ‘Coral Flame’

Do you see the hoverfly?

Phlox paniculata ‘Coral Flame’

It’s as if this hoverfly were made of liquid gold and bronze.  And look at the wings!  And the shadow of the wings on the phlox petals.

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I have been spending a bit of time with the buddleia.  This is ‘Royal Red’.

Buddleia ‘Royal Red’

It looks lovely with Phlox paniculata ‘Starfire’ behind, which picks up the magenta red of the throats of the individual buddleia flowers.

Buddleia ‘Royal Red’

Oh look!  This is what I have been trying to capture!  A peacock butterfly!

Buddleia ‘Royal Red’ with Peacock Butterfly

At this point I was wedged between the buddleia and the phlox, and was desperately trying to lean in to get a closer photo.  I spooked the butterfly, and off it flew.

But then, right by my head, another!  You can only just see the eye on the wing; it is showing me its velvet underside.

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Buddleia ‘Royal Red’ with Peacock Butterfly

The texture of the wing is incredible; like a fur.  And look at its marvellous antennae and proboscis!


It looks like burnt toast here.

P7150171 It had a good slurp and then it was off.  Allowing me to admire the buddleia.  I think I love the flowers best when they open in tiers, like this one.

Buddleia ‘Royal Red’.

I didn’t mention the scent.  Buddleia has a gorgeous perfume, but I just can’t describe it.  Does it smell of violets, or I am I influenced by the colour?  It is a warm and dark and seductive smell.

This is another buddleia, ‘Black Knight’.  I use buddleia in the back row of the border, interspersed with taller roses and euphorbia.  ‘Black Knight’ seems to be going over really quickly this year.  I am deadheading the blooms as they shrivel and turn brown, which should prolong the flowering.

Bluddleia ‘Black Knight’

This is a shorter buddleia, which I bought for its name, ‘Miss Ruby’ (one of our dogs is called Ruby).  This flower looks like it is sky-diving.

Buddleia ‘Miss Ruby’

At this point I had to retreat to the shade.  Just as I put my camera away, another peacock butterfly sailed past on its way to the buddleia.  And then I saw a dragonfly.

I will keep trying!

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.

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28 Comments Add yours

  1. photosociology says:

    Really enjoying your photography, especially the bugs and butterflies.

  2. Stevie says:

    That caterpillar is from the cinnabar moth, and the ragwort round here is covered with them. I read they are entirely dependent on ragwort, so I don’t know what they were doing in the garden.

    1. Ali says:

      There’s ragwort up the drive behind the garden, Stevie.

  3. Splendid, well photographed, colour. Great shots of the underside of the Peacock. Nicely alliterative title

    1. Ali says:

      I do like a bit of alliteration!

      1. It’s contagious 🙂

  4. pommepal says:

    The detail on the butterflies is gorgeous, love the striped antenna

    1. Ali says:

      I know! The eyes, nose and antennae are a revelation!

  5. bcparkison says:

    Uor garden seems to be holding up well under the intense heat. Most every thing here is turning brown. well…not the trees thankfully but the iris and day lilies are needing to be cut down. Love all of the close ups.

    1. Ali says:

      The grass is completely golden. We’ve never had it quite so dry…

  6. Heyjude says:

    Your brights are vivid and your butterflies bootiful 😀
    So frustrating when they won’t behave themselves and pose nicely!

    1. Ali says:

      I can hear them laughing at me!

  7. Thank you for your lovely photos!

  8. Awww these are wonderful … so many glorious and vivid colours! I absolutely love them! Did you plant the garden up yourself? It’s so beautiful … I daresay a fair amount of work, but then again if it’s something you love, it’s not really work is it!

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, I did. And now I constantly rearrange it!

      1. Yes, I remember planting up my own garden years ago from a scrappy piece of land behind the cottage … it was a labour of love and all the plants were begged, borrowed or stolen (well not actually stolen obviously I didn’t go around digging up my neighbours plants! But cuttings etc!). And every year I got braver and found more plant combinations that I couldn’t live without so had to create more borders … by the time I left eleven or so years later, it was so pretty and how I loved it … It’s such a pleasure. And rightly so, you must be so proud of yours. It’s utterly gorgeous! Katie xx

      2. Ali says:

        Aw…must have been hard to leave it – am guessing in not ideal circumstances. But if you’ve done it once you know you can do it again. And I love that it is never finished so you never sit back on your haunches and wonder what to do next!

      3. Exactly, our work is never done! There’s always something that either needs to be done or an area that we feel can be improved!

  9. Lovely pictures and well done with the butterflies. We only seem to have cabbage whites, despite having a magnificent buddleia – hoping for butterflies one day

    1. Ali says:

      Buddleia is a good pull for the butterflies!

  10. Fantastic photos, really stunning.

  11. bittster says:

    Phlox are one of my favorites, and I love the bright ones you’ve picked to fill your border!
    My buddliea are only just getting started this year. A hard freeze after a mild autumn set them back quite a bit this spring, and it’s been a struggle. I miss them of course, and the butterflies they bring in.
    Awesome outside to the Peacock’s wings!

    1. Ali says:

      My buddleia are much smaller and with fewer flowering stems than last year too – I think I took them for granted and thought they were tough as old boots, so it was a surprise that they were upset by the cold.

  12. john smith says:

    Ali, could you recommend a climbing plant / plants to go behind pink/purple David Austin shrub roses – against a south facing 3 panel seven feet high fence? I have tried a couple of climbing roses , but they have proved disappointing. It is a prominent site against the back door. Nb, Loved this post – I will be planting some of those Euphorbia. Thank you.

    1. Ali says:

      Hmm… if you keep it watered then I would say a Clematis would be the ideal companion. I love ‘Etoile Violet’ or ‘Jackmanii Superb’…

      1. John says:

        Thanks Ali for your suggestion. I have heard of Etolie before, but not Superb. Thanks again.

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