Bampton's Special Verbena
Growing in some Bampton gardens, and also in the public garden the 'railway bed' at the top of Luke Street is a plant which none of the local horticultural experts could identify. It is a striking upright plant growing about a metre high, and covered in small purple flowers. It is not unlike Verbena bonariensis or rigidus, but has a different style of growth and many more flowers.
Verbena officinalis grandiflora
growing in Bampton
So we went along to the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley for their help in identification...
"Your Verbena was such a puzzle to us that I ended up sending images to a botanist named Eric Clement who has made a study of Verbenas in Britain. He has come up with the name Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora, which is a very large southern European variant of our native vervain.
V. officinalis var. grandiflora appears to be a striking and ornamental plant and we would be interested in receiving some seeds to grow at Wisley if at all possible" (which of course we have done).
The plant is now named by the RHS as Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora 'Bampton' and is available at a number of nurseries and garden centres.
Our sincere thanks to the RHS for their help. And maybe someday you will see the plants growing at Wisley - they certainly seem to grow well here in Bampton.
Top Ten Plants of the last 20 years: And what could be a better acolade than having verbena 'Bampton' named as a top ten plant in the wonderful Beth Chatto's garden?
This is a clip from The English Garden magazine - Spring 2017 edition.
Also, in Which? Gardening, Bob Brown descibes the plant as "a scrummy version of the native verbena with striking, glossy, deep-purple foliage set with tiny sparkling flowers from spring to autumn".
In The RHS The Garden magazine in July 2019, the Bampton verbena was praised by none other than the well-known plantsman Roy Lancaster visiting Wildegoose Nursery.
Is it difficult to grow? It likes the sun, and here it is growing self-seeded in Bampton pavement! Says it all.