A good friend gave me an early Christmas present last week. A buttonbush! Cephalanthus occidentalis is a shrub I have always wanted since seeing it at a zoo a few years ago. I read about its benefits to wildlife (butterflies andÂ bees in particular) in Doug Tallamyâ€™s book Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007).
Buttonbush is a native that I had never seen at any of our local nurseries and figured I would have to buy either online or from a mail-order native nursery. Lucky for me, my friend did manage to find it at a local nursery that never carried it before, and he nabbed it, knowing how much Iâ€™ve wanted one. Even though it came to me in its dormant state, I recognized it immediately.
What caught my eye at that zoo a few years back is also the reason I recognized the buttonbush so quickly. Itâ€™s also the reason for the plantâ€™s common name. The blooms are 1-inch, perfect little balls of tiny white-flowers clusters. Several blooms occur on the end of each branch. Itâ€™s unique, and even the seedpods are interesting.
I havenâ€™t decided yet where in the garden to put my new buttonbush, and I think Iâ€™ll wait until spring to situate it in its final destination. In the meantime, I have temporarily healed it into one of the vegetable-garden beds, pot and all. Iâ€™ll be thinking long and hard over the coming winter months about where to place itâ€”I want to be able to watch theÂ butterflies and bees enjoying it from my station at the back patio. I have a sneaking suspicion it may become a good excuse to build a brand-new garden bed next spring. Just what I need!