I’ve been enjoying watching the little wildflower patch I planted in my parents’ garden earlier in the year as it’s bloomed and done a fine job of attracting and feeding plenty of pollinators. Even now, it’s still growing new flowers and it’s a pleasure to potter outside with the dog to see how it’s getting on and what’s changed since I last looked. It’s such an easy way to make a space welcoming to wildlife such as pollinators and other invertebrates that can use the plants for nesting and feeding – I hope sharing my enthusiasm might encourage you to try it too if you’ve not already considered it. If you’re looking for an almost zero-effort method of welcoming wildlife onto your doorstep, this could be the ideal option.
1. Select a space or container
I was lucky that my parents allowed me a patch in the garden to plant some wildflower seeds, and my mum even kindly cleared and dug over the soil for me ready for the seeds. The patch was about 1 and a half feet by 3 feet, but any size patch, pot or window box is perfect.
2. Choose some seeds
I planted my seeds in spring and they grew throughout the summer. Many can also be planted in the autumn, so this is a perfect project to start straight away, or plan ahead to get started in a few months. I used two wildflower seed mixes I was given, one of which was “bumblebee friendly” and 25p per sale was donated to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The other was generally “wildlife friendly”. It is easy to find wildflower seeds for sale which are native and wildlife/pollinator friendly in garden centres or online, though if you are able to find seeds locally this is the best option to be beneficial to wildlife, to ensure you are planting species which already grow and “belong” in the area. If the mix includes perennials, then they should reseed themselves, meaning they’ll come up again the following year without the need for replanting.
3. Scatter the seeds
One tip is to mix a bit of sand or flower in with the seeds so that you can see you’ve scattered them evenly. Sprinkle or rake a thin layer of soil over the top of the scattered seeds.
4. Water, watch and wait
It’s a relaxing past-time to do a bit of watering, and my sweet little dog enjoys helping, which makes it even more fun.
If you’re sowing seeds in the autumn, then they only need watering in after planting, then they can be left alone until the spring. If you’re sowing in the spring, then water them frequently to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out.
I’ve loved seeing the seedlings appear in the spring and early summer, and busy bees, spiders and beetles using the plants. It excites me every time new flowers appear. Throughout the summer, it was a pleasure to see the colours transform and replace one another as different species flowered at different times. Even now, well into autumn, our little patch is still surprising me with colour and new flowers.
It is possible to provide food for pollinators in the garden by planting established plants with nectar-rich flowers, but I personally think that planting wildflower seeds and watching different species appear as and when they are ready is way more fun. It’s also massively cheaper to pay for a little packet of seeds or two rather than a selection of already-grown plants, and much less effort to leave them to their own devices rather than clearing “weeds” from the surrounding soil. This, in turn, provides more cover for invertebrates that need it (and in turn, species which feed on those invertebrates.. and so on) – win, win, win!
For a cheap, easy and continually rewarding way to welcome wildlife into your garden, onto your doorstep, patio, balcony or windowsill, I can’t recommend planting wildflower seeds more!