Six wild flowers that will attract wildlife into your garden
The definition of a wild flower is one that is native to the country and hasn't been cultivated or modified by breeding. Wild flowers have long been important to us for their healing properties but are more important to maintaining a healthy eco-system. They attract beneficial insects into the garden which in turn then help to fertilise our crops and provide food themselves for other wildlife. If this is not reason enough to grow wild flowers in your garden, then consider how useful they are for parts of the garden that are difficult to cultivate conventionally such as steep slopes, overly dry ground, or areas where the soil is poor. Here are a few varieties of wild flower that are especially useful in attracting wildlife into your garden.
The primrose or Primula vulgaris, is a low growing herbaceous perennial plant which has pale yellow flowers in early spring. Because it flowers early in the year, it provides an important first source of nectar for emerging bees and butterflies, as does the snowdrop or Galanthus nivalis. The common foxglove or Digitalis purpurea is a biennial plant with pink tubular flowers produced on a tall stem in early summer. Bees and other insects love them.
Corn marigold or Chrysanthemum segetum was once considered to be one of the worst weeds to inhabit cornfields. However, it is a favourite of hover flies for its pollen. So too is the cornflower or Centaurea cyanus, a small annual flowering plant with flowers of an intense blue colour. It too was once considered a weed in crop fields but is now endangered in its natural habitat. Field scabious or Knautia arvensis, is highly attractive to adult butterflies. It has lilac coloured honeycomb-like flowers on slender stems from July to September.
Lady's smock or cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis) gets its name because it first appears in April, as does the cuckoo. It is an elegant plant that produces pink or white flowers on long narrow stems during late spring/early summer. It is the food plant of the orange tip butterfly. Honeysuckle or Lonicera, is a climbing shrub with highly scented flowers during summer. The plant is particularly important to moths as their larvae feed on it. The cowslip or Primula veris, is a low growing herbaceous perennial with deep yellow flowers in April and May produced on a single upright stem. The name cowslip is derived from the Old English word meaning 'cow dung' most likely because the plant was often found growing amongst the manure in cow pastures. Its flowers attract long-tongued insects such as bees and moths that feed on its nectar.
If you don't have any suitable space in your garden for growing a few wildflower species, then try growing a few in containers. They will provide a beautiful annual display as well as attracting beneficial wildlife into your garden.