Here are five of my favourite wild plants to grow in a colourful and trendy new wildlife friendly garden. They’re super easy to grow, flower all summer long and will attract thousands of bees, hoverflies and butterflies to your garden. In winter, seed heads look fabulous in frost and snow, plus the seeds provide food for small birds.
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- 20 British native wildflowers to grow
- How to create a wildflower pot
Achillea millefolium has flat dishes of white to pale pink flowers from spring until autumn, offering wonderful horizontal structure in plantings. I love it because it’s used by a huge range of short tongue insects like butterflies and hoverflies, and it could not be easier to grow. It particularly thrives in drier soils, needing no watering in dry summer weather, in fact, all you have to do is cut back some flower stems to encourage more growth.
Dipsacus fullonum is a towering wildflower with spears of spiky bobbles containing hundreds of tiny flowers. I fell in love with it when I was rummaging around a waste ground in London and saw the way its flowers open outwards in two rows, covered by busy bumblebees drinking the nectar. The seed heads look absolutely spectacular in winter and will attract beautiful goldfinches. It's one of my absolute favourites.
Although there are many cultivated scabious, none is more beautiful to me than the wild field scabious, Knautia arvensis with its flower heads held on wiry stems. Petals are a mix of pale blue, pink and purple, changing colours as the flower opens and depending on the light. Butterflies are drawn to this more than most plants, bringing your garden to life with their own colours and movement.
In recent years gardeners have grown obsessed with the beautiful North American prairie daisies Echinacea and Rudbeckia, overlooking our very own large ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare. These white and yellow flowers continue flowering for months throughout the summer, attracting all manner of insects and grown en mass, they create a white veil through a border or grassy verge. Like all plants on this list they are easy to grow, self seeding gently to create more plants.
Nothing excites me more in summer than a sea of purple knapweed flowers through wildflower meadows and I love to have this colour and shape in gardens too. The spiky little flower heads are vibrant and colourful, attracting butterflies and bees. Plants are similar in structure to Verbena bonariensis with tall and open wiry stems, it can be grown in the same way through other plants, albeit to about two thirds of the height