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Opportunities in the garden

Gardens cover an extra-ordinary range of soil types, sizes and aspect where there are opportunities to restore wild flowers not just from meadows, but from other habitats such as orchards, woodland, ponds and chalk. It should be stressed that these are in the main “secondary” locations and will in no way compete with the long established prime gardening sites.

Orchards are a feature of many gardens, where fruit trees grow with spring bulbs but with very little of interest later in the season. There is a group of robust wild flowers which can be established from seed or 9cm pots in prepared circles or squares in this type of grassland, often dominated by coarse grasses. So long as these areas are close mown at the end of the season, these wild flowers will be able to fend for themselves:
Common Agrimony
Oxeye Daisy
Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil
Hedge Bedstraw
Red Campion
Field Scabious
Meadow Cranesbill
Tufted Vetch
Meadow Vetching
Musk Mallow

Woodland Plants
Many woodland plants have given up trying to set seed because light levels are insufficient, so they use vegetative methods instead, such as under North/ East facing fences, walls and hedges or light shade.

There are however exceptions where seed is best:
foxglove, herb robert, red campion, bluebell.
Note: Herb robert is an annual, spreads rapidly and provides attractive ground cover.
Bluebells are best under a beech tree or where heavy shade excludes all else.
Red campion looks amazing with buebells or alkanet.


Sweet Violet
Lesser Celandine
Sweet Woodruff
Dog Violet
Wood Anemone
Yellow Archangel
Note: sweet violet and primrose are excellent in shaded grass. Sweet violets spread rapidly, primrose much more slowly, but the result can be spectacular. Mow grass short at end of season.
Bugle spreads quickly in damp shaded grass.
Wood anemone and lesser celandine flower before tree leaf burst.
Dog violets thrive in gravel.
For larger woodland schemes, especially on ex-arable land, ensure that there is a fescue grass ground cover established when new trees are planted. Use Field margin Mix I in rides and glades and plan woodland flowers when shade levels develop approx 10 years later. Use 9cm pots, with 5 or 6 pots of the same species planted 0.5m apart, with these groups 5 – 10 m apart.
There is a certain amount of capital investment in making a pond, but do bear in mind that a shallow gradient around the edge of the water is the only place where wet loving plants will thrive. A steep sided pond will remove this crucial area.
All plants around a pond need to be planted in a minimum pot size of 9cm as weed growth is so vigorous in the wetland environment. Pond plants divide roughly into two groups:
Pond edge. NOT in the water
Ladys Smock
Ragged Robin
Water Avens
Devislbit Scabious
Hemp Agrimony
Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil
Great Burnet
Squ. Stem'd St. Johnswort

Pond edge. WITHIN the water
Purple Loosestrife
Branched Bur-Reed
Greater Spearwort
Pond Sedge
Water Plantain
Yellow Flag Iris

Most of these plants come well from seed and should be grown on to a robust size before being planted out.
NB. Betony, devilsbit scabious, greater birdsfoot trefoil and fleabane thrive in damp lawns and produce wonderful drifts of colour. Plant out in 9cm pots and allow to seed.

Plants of the Chalk
Some of our most attractive wild flowers are only to be found on chalk soils because it is only under these conditions that they can compete. In gardens, they will often grow perfectly well in gravel, grit or paving or in a traditional rockery. These include:
Clustered Bellflower
Kidnet Vetch
Dark Mullein
Wild Thyme
Greater Knapweed
Small Scabious
Bloody Cranesbill
Wild Marjoram
Common Rockrose
Horseshoe Vetch
Although all these plants will establish direct from seed, it may be easier to use seed trays and grow on to a 9cm pot before planting out. Horseshoe vetch has been found to be very difficult to grow direct from seed and is best grown in a seed tray under optimum conditions.
Contact detailsSeed mixes availableOpportunities in the gardenFAQ'sBiodiversity

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Restoring Wildflowers to
the Countryside.

Either email us for full details,
or go to Amazon where it is
available for £19.99

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Irreplaceable Woodlands
Some practical steps to restoring
our wildlife heritage.

Either email us for full details,
or go to Amazon where it is
available for £19.99

»Visit Amazon
Charles Flower Wildflowers . Bussock Hill House . Snelsmore . Newbury . Berkshire . RG14 3BL