Wildflowers to the rescue

Meadow © Anna Williams

We can all incorporate wildflowers into our gardens – and enjoy the buzz that comes with them! Anna Williams shares some suggestions …

Wildflowers can be an important addition to any garden or green space – especially if you want to attract wildlife such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies, moths, bumblebees and other insects. (These, in turn, will attract other animals such as birds, bats and small mammals.)

There are a number of ways in which you can add wildflowers to your garden – some suggested species and locations are below. You can easily incorporate them into borders, boxes or baskets – but why not go the whole hog and dedicate an area to become a meadow?

The autumn is a good time to sow a perennial native wildflower meadow. Managing soil fertility is important as rich, fertile soil encourages strong growth of grasses and weed species which compete with wildflowers – and ultimately win!  Cutting and removing hay from an already existing sward/lawn will reduce its fertility over time, but you can also choose to remove the whole, or patches of, existing turf if it’s of no botanical interest.  It’s then a simple matter of sowing a native wildflower mix – following the instructions supplied and being careful not to mow it all down next spring!

The flowers you can grow depend on where you live, and it’s worth choosing flowers to suit the site and the soil (sunny/shady, wet/dry, acid/calcareous). Take advice from seed companies specialising in native flowers, or simply have a look around to see what grows locally!

In sunny positions go for knapweed, field scabious, meadow buttercup, lady’s bedstraw, bird’s foot trefoil, meadow cranesbill, yellow rattle, vetches, yarrow, selfheal, musk mallow, ox-eye daisy, betony, St John’s wort, wild carrot, cowslip, primrose.  For shady positions, choose red campion, lungwort, wood avens, betony, bugle, garlic mustard, foxglove and violets.

Plants for dry soil include harebell, sea campion, pinks, rockroses, common restharrow, thrift, thyme, kidney vetch, spiked speedwell and herb-Robert.  Damp soil suits angelica, meadowsweet, greater bird’s foot trefoil, lady’s smock, marsh marigold and purple loosestrife.

Above all, give it a go – what’s the worst that could happen?

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