VERBENA BONARIENSIS (Purple top)
S America – Brazil to Argentina & Chile
This tender perennial from tropical South America likes full sun to part shade & will tolerate poor soil as long as it is well-drained. It begins life as a cluster of dark green ovate leaves, from which square stems rise to a height of over two metres.
Pompons of tiny fragrant ROSE-LAVENDER flowers appear atop these long stems in mid-summer & last until first frosts. The plant may measure 3ft x 6ft, forming an airy screen.
Slugs and snails are uninterested in Verbena bonariensis. Its rough stems deter any nibbling. But butterflies & bees flock to it for its nectar, clinging to the flower mounds as they blow in the breeze.
Even if the plant is felled by a cold winter, the many seeds it will have produced may well grow into new Purple Tops the following season. While Purple Top flourishes in nearby Gillespie Park as well as several Highbury front gardens, we have lost two plants to icy winter conditions in the back garden here. This contrasts with parts of the USA, where it may become invasive.
Other Names: Argentinian Vervain, Brazilian Vervain, Cambara-de-capoeira (Brazil), Clustertop Vervain, Pretty Verbena, South American Vervain, Tall verbena, The Purpletop Vervain,
Christopher Lloyd planted Verbena Bonariensis in his garden at Great Dixter. He began the nursery in 1954, & it remains ‘small, personal & professional’. About 80% of Dixter’s nursery plants are raised from stock from their fabulous plantings. We got our 2013 Verbena Bonariensis there.
If you hope to visit just one great garden in the southeast this year, why not make it Great Dixter?