July 11 – ‘Wild Thing you Make my Heart Sing’

THERE is space in every garden, no matter how small, for at least one wildflower. Not only are wildflowers easy to grow and look fabulous they are also great for wildlife. As long as you keep an eye on them and don’t let them get out of control there is no reason why wild flowers and traditional favourites can’t grow hand in hand.

 It’s a shame but a lot of people still think of wildflowers as weeds and we are all told that weeds are bad and must be destroyed at all costs.

Ok, some wildflowers are perhaps more desirable than others, you wouldn’t want too many dandelions or docks in your garden but the odd one in the right place can look great. In fact we try to get at least one wildflower into every garden that we design.

Rosebay Willowherb

 Personally, I find wildflowers quite nostalgic, especially cow parsley, bladder campion and stitchwort, as they remind me of walks in the countryside as a child with my family. My own personal favourite at this time of year has got to be ‘rosebay willowherb’, (Epilobium angustifolium), not to be confused with ‘greater willowherb’, (Epilobium hirsutum), which gives a welcome splash of colour (vivid pink) to roadsides and verges. Luckily, they seed about readily and I’ve got one growing out of one of my pots at the front of the house, which I won’t weed out!  Chicory (Cichorium intybush) is another beauty flowering at the moment, with lovely powder blue cornflower- like flowers .

 As you would expect wildflowers are incredibly versatile, and can grow anywhere even on the poorest of soils. In fact they prefer it and thrive on wasteland and derelict areas. Good wildflowers for shade are foxgloves, woodruff and wild pansies and for sunny sites oxe-eyed daisies, buttercups and white campions.  For damp sites try elecampane or fairywort (Inula helenium), ragged robin (lychnis  flos-cuculi) and sedges.

Elecampane

Wildflowers are widely available, either as plants or seeds at your local garden centre or DIY store or for something a little bit unusual there are some really great specialist wild flower nurseries out there, just ‘Google’ them.

So, if you’ve got a few so called weeds growing in your garden don’t panic and rush to hoe them out, leave the odd one and see what develops, you might be pleasantly surprised.  After all, if you like it who cares if it’s a weed!

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