This late-flowering shrub is full of bloom on the Mediterranean Beds.
One of 250 mainly tropical trees and shrubs Vitex negundo var. heterophylla is one of the few hardy species of this genus, which belongs to the verbena family (Verbenaceae). It is has a wide distribution in the Himalaya and western China, where it grows in mixed thickets between 200m and 1800m. It has pinnate, deeply-lobed foliage which has earned it the name of cut-leaved chaste tree. Small, tubular, terminal panicles of violet-blue flowers are produced in late summer, and are particularly attractive to bees and butterflies. It can grow to over 10m in height, but here it is treated as a pollarded tree, where the previous year’s growth is cut back to the main stem, from which the next seasons growth will emerge. It requires a warm growing season and a sheltered position to ripen the wood and produce flower. It was first introduced to the British Isles by Philip Miller in the 1750’s who acquired it from the gardener at Versailles, having been introduced to France only a short time before this.