About a year ago a made a little wildflower patch in my parents’ garden. This year I’ve gone a bit mad adding pots to my little (rented) patio.
The wildflower mixes I used last year gave the added anticipation of waiting to see what appeared, but I decided this time to choose a few specific species. Mainly ones I see on local walks in the hope that they’re useful for the invertebrate life in the area.
Five species I decided on were…
The bright yellow flowers remind me of summer and happily (sometimes frustratedly) following butterflies around trying to catch photos of them. According to Plantlife, the flowers are an excellent nectar source for pollinators.
This plant is on the RHS Plants for Pollinators list. I enjoy spotting the distinctive leaves of vetches whilst out exploring and will love seeing these feathery purple petals emerge.
I might not have the space to recreate the swathes of them that I admire in the wild, but I’ve seen plenty of invertebrates using these cheerful flowers, from beetles to butterflies. The sight of them in the garden will definitely bring me pleasure, too. I learnt something new about them today reading The Wildlife Trust and Woodland Trust websites – each flower head, rather than being a single flower, is a composite made up of many, many individual flowers.
Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) and Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare): I actually thought I’d ordered Common knapweed but either I or the company made a mistake (probably me) so I’m giving Greater Knapweed a go! Wild Marjoram has been recommended to me as a plant loved by butterflies, plus we might get to eat a bit of it too. I’ve seen knapweed impressively a-buzz with activity at a local nature reserve and both should develop beautiful flowers and provide a pit-stop for any pollinators passing through.
One thing I love about growing flowers from seed is that you can make the most of whatever space you have.
You don’t even have to spend any money on pots… Mine include fruit containers, margarine pots, yoghurt pots and cut-off bottles. As well as a few reused pots and, of course, my wellies! Basically, whatever I could rescue from the recycling/find a new use for. I just added drainage holes in the bottom where needed.
The holes are necessary to prevent the roots sitting in water and rotting. If you can’t or don’t want to cut holes in the plant pot to-be, I’d recommend using the plastic pots some fruits are sold in if you happen to have them, as they come with holes ready-cut.
They might not look the most fancy but passing invertebrates won’t care, and when the surface is covered with flowers and foliage, who’s going to notice the pots? (In the current situation, who else is going to even see them anyway..?)
It is one of my most favourite things to watch them grow and I highly recommend it if you have enough space to fit a pot (or makeshift pot) and a pound or two you can spare on a packet of seeds. I really think the joy of watching them grow is worth it regardless of the amount of space you have. If you have zero outside space, you could grow them on a windowsill where you open the window on warm days. There is something indescribably soothing about their very presence, and if the window can be opened there could even still be the chance of a hungry insect flying by and finding them.
My dream is to have an overgrown lawn with great floristic diversity, maybe just a little path mown into it… but for now my little pots make me very happy and are more than enough.