Blue butterfly heaven by the Jellicoe Canal

Late summer sees the beautiful broad-leaved chaste tree come into its own

Vitex agnus castus f latifolia by the LaboratoryHave you visited the Henry Moore King and Queen statue by the Jellicoe Canal, full of beautiful water lilies at this time of year? Well, just behind it, by the door to the Laboratory, is a large shrub that comes into its prime in late summer. It’s Vitex agnus-castus f. latifolia otherwise known as the broad-leaved chaste tree.

It is the lavender-blue flowers that make this shrub special, popular with butterflies too. Small, tubular two-lipped and fragrant individually, the flowers are borne at the end of the branches in long fingers (technically termed a terminal spray). It’s reminiscent of a buddleia. The leaves are palmate – like a hand – with five or seven leaflets, and these too are aromatic. It’s rather elegant, which is why we happily grow it in such a prominent position at Wisley.

Vitex agnus castus f latifoliaThis is a west-facing position with space for this shrub to grow, and it thrives here. You can expect such a specimen to reach up to 4–8m in their native Mediterranean regions, although 2m is more likely in Britain. Luckily they aren’t too fussy about soil type but do like sun and shelter from the cold.

To demonstrate the versatility of this plant, we also grow it on Battleston Hill and in the Mixed Borders, where the flowers and foliage add grace and structure to the plantings.  You might also spot a pink-flowered plant Vitex agnus-castus ‘Rosea’ and a white-flowered Vitex agnus-castus f. alba ‘Silver Spire’. They’re all beautiful, and a worthy addition to any garden.


Read more


Late-summer colour
Watch this video for more ideas for adding interest at this time of year

Blue beauties
Love blue in the garden? Here are some of our favourite blue spring bulbs
 

 
 

Advertise here

Discuss this

for the site or to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.