Butterflies on a stick

Gaura

A cloud of Gaura lindheimeri

When I first saw this mesmerizing flower at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in the Weald of Kent (which is a fancy way of saying in a bit of South East England) I had no idea that the plant was actually a North American wildflower. All I could think of was that all those delicate white and pink blooms, nodding in the breeze from the ends of their long, wiry, almost leafless stems, looked just like butterflies on a stick. In a good way.

The plant has been going by the unfortunate name of Gaura lindheimeri although powers that be in the world of botany [Yes, there is a world of botany. BWAHHAhahaha!] have recently changed it to the even worse Oenothera lindheimeri. On top of that, it doesn’t even have a cute common name like Flutterby’s Breeches or Hankies In The Wind. Chances are your favourite garden centre will still be calling it Gaura but it’ll be easy to find regardless as they’re usually head and shoulders taller than anything else on the table with stems so thin and dark that the bright flowers look like they’re levitating, independent of support.

I’m a big fan of this plant because once you’ve got it established, it’ll bloom from the beginning of summer right through until the middle of fall. Look for varieties such as “Whirling Butterflies” or “Siskiyou Pink”. The latter can grow stems up to 3 feet in height, adding delicate movement at the breath of a breeze in part sun or part shade areas. In my last two gardens, I’ve planted the tallest varieties of Gaura I can find in spots where it can be seen backlit by the sun. Breathtaking.

 

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