Flowering now

Yes, it’s been a long, hot summer and yes, the summer flowers are starting to struggle a bit but there’s still plenty going on in the garden.

The other day I heard someone say that Gaura lindheimeri is much-loved by butterflies. But I think she was confused by the plant’s common name of butterfly bush, which comes from the way the flowers move about, not that they are particularly attractive to butterflies.

For the past couple of years I have trained my plant up through a stake and hoop system (bought from The Warehouse) to stop the long stems flopping all over the place. The effect now is rather like an explosion of flowers.

In the past I have tried the more strongly coloured hybrids and found them to be short lived, while the original pale pink variety just goes on and on. I cut the plant – a North American wildflower – back to the ground when it starts to look past its best.


Gaura is a drought-resistant perennial that flowers for many months. Photo:  Sandra Simpson

A few years ago a friend who was cleaning out an old garden to establish her own gave me some Amaryllis belladonna (naked lady) bulbs. Completely by accident I planted them in exactly the right place – full sun with good drainage. The strappy foliage is nice and lush, and the messy dying back period lasts only for a short while.

The flower, as the common name suggests, comes after the foliage so are “naked” on a single stem. Mine are all white flowers, but there are also pink-flowered ones. I once divided a large clump of bulbs but found they “sulked” for a year or so before coming back into flower.


Amaryllis belladonna or naked lady. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Liriope muscari plants flower from summer into autumn and are good for a shady spot. The plants (they look like they might be bulbs, but aren’t) are easy to divide once they clump up and have a long flowering period. Locally, Ace Mondo offers a range of colours.

Ozbreed has developed Liriope Isabella, which the company promotes as an easy-care grass alternative for a lawn – it needs mowing only once a year!


Liriope muscari Joy Mist. The round leaf is a native fuchsia. Photo: Sandra Simpson


I’ve had months of pleasure from vibrant pink cosmos and now the white variety is flowering strongly too. Photo: Sandra Simpson


3 thoughts on “Flowering now

  1. Dear Sandra
    I wish to comment on Gaura Lindheimeri – it is a grassland plant from the USA and if you check on global lists of plants suitable for bees and butterflies; it is listed as a particularly good source of both pollen and nectar. I have had over 500 plants in my rural garden here in HB and can assure you that the plants hummed with bees and the butterflies visited too. I had over 100 swan plants for years and we had a huge Monarch and Red Admiral populations present. I had to leave HB for 8 years, I am back in the garden now and building up my bee and butterfly plants again. Mexcian Orange Blossom – Choiysa ternata is an outstanding butterfly food source.
    Diana Bell

    • Hello Diana,

      Thanks for clearing that up for me. There is a good butterfly garden at Te Puna Quarry Park, near Tauranga, that flourishes in pretty tough conditions. Mary Parkinson, who heads up that part of the project, recommends the single orange dahlia as one of the best food plants for monarchs, and pentas. If you have red admirals, you have nettles, yes?

      If you’d like to share some of your knowledge in a guest post, let me know here and we’ll talk by email.

      Thanks so much for stopping by,

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