Angela Lambert
25th March 2013 

It's far too cold to be setting seeds outside right now but there's no reason why some wildflowers cannot be started off on a sunny windowsill.

I've been given seeds from four native species and now,  ie late March /early April is a good time to sow them in pots indoors.  If it weren't snowing, I'd be doing this in the greenhouse but it's mighty chilly out there so I'm staying in.

Three of these species are perennials, which means that they'll keep on growing year after year ; the other species is biennial,  in other words, the seeds I'm about to sow will spend this year growing leaves and roots and then next year they will flower, set seed and die.

All of these plants will encourage bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects into my garden and I'm hoping that these endearing little creatures will lend a hand in the vegetable patch too.

So, my fab four are : cowslip, heartsease, harebell and foxgloves.

cowslip

 

 

The cowslip is a meadow flower that blooms in early spring. In fact it's Latin name,  Primula veris, roughly translated into English means "first to flower in spring "  I'm certainly not expecting these to bloom this spring, indeed I shall be surprised if they even germinate this year.  The packet says to expect seedlings to appear in 10 to 30 days but I happen to know that these can be tricky.  If they do grow I shall be plug-planting them into my mini wildflower meadow that was created a couple of years ago using meadowmat wild flower matting.

Heartsease

 

Then comes heartsease,  the wild pansy.  This is as easy to grow as cowslips are difficult. I shall have some of these in the polytunnel to bring the bees in to where the tomato plants are waiting to be pollinated ; some will go into the herbaceous borders, some will be used in planters and best of all, some will be given away to family and friends. Apparently a spoonful of dried heartsease in a teacup of hot water with honey added will cleanse the blood and strengthen the nerves.

 

 

foxgloveOne plant I won't be making tea with is my third wonderful wildflower,  the foxglove.  This beautiful and stately plant is great for bees but deadly poisonous to us. Needless to say I won't be placing these within easy reach of the grandchildren. Assuming that they actually grow, these are destined mainly for the small wood on my husband's farm, with a few making their home in the herbaceous border.  Foxgloves, aka digitalis purpurea, are biennial,  so no flowers this year.  I think the buzzword to use where wild things are concerned is "patience ".

 

 

 

 

 

 

harebell

 

Fourth, but by no means last, is the humble harebell. Campanula rotundifolia. This is a flower that seems to be re-establishing itself on the woodland drives near to where I live. The flowers appear to be incredibly delicate and to catch sight of them really makes the soul sing. Harebells are happiest in drier soils so, when and if they grow, I think I'll see how they cope with the chalky banks around our grain store.

I have no idea whether or not any of these species will thrive under my management and I have to say that some of  the appeal of wild plants is in trying to emulate nature and in attempting to redress the balance between commercial  food production, ornamental gardening  and the ancient systems that were established before man ventured out of his cave to pick nuts and berries.

 But wildflowers can be tricky to grow from seed.  There is no better wildlife habitat than a wildflower meadow.  Meadowmat  wild flower matting  is laid just like turf and will offer faster, more reliable results than seeding. 

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