30 Days Wild – Day 4

It is often said that a weed is simply a flower in the wrong place. I would consider that any flower which adds life and colour to a drab lawn has found it’s right place, and so I went out into the garden this morning to see what had found its home amongst the grass. It’s amazing how many little wildflowers can find a home if you mow a little less often and with the blades a little higher!

Thyme leaved speedwell – a delicate tiny member of the speedwell family which does great in lawns, being often no higher than the grass itself
Ribwort plantain – these are quite architectural in their way and the dark seed heads add contrast to the lawn
Creeping buttercup does very well in the damper patches in lawns – the leaves can be a little unsightly but cut a little less and allow the flowers to open to get your reward!
Dandelions are seen as the enemy of many a tidy garden, but they are truly attractive flowers and absolutely adored by pollinators, providing an especially important nectar source for solitary bees which emerge in spring
Cowslips naturalise very well into lawns – these ones came from a site several years ago which was being partially cleared to put a new track through a grassland. I took a few of these plants which would otherwise have been lost and now they are well established and spreading through the edges of the lawn which makes a nice transition from the lawn to the flower beds.
Daisies are one of those long-season species which can add a splash of colour to the lawn all year round – again, a great species for pollinators such as early spring beeflies which hover above the flowers to drink nectar with their incredibly long proboscis.
A packet of forget-me-not seeds will see a sea of blue filling bare spring soils for years to come – these ones naturalise so freely that you can simply remove them where you want to and leave them to flower everywhere else. These ones seem a particular favourite of the feather-footed flower bees which dart at amazing speed from flower to flower in the early spring.

Many of our native species are considered ‘weeds’ in many gardens but I try to let everything live in our garden somewhere. That doesn’t mean I never weed and thin, but it’s always good to let wildflowers thrive where they can. A good example in our garden is the abundant willowherb – Epilobium montanum – which can be something of a nuisance. But then every year, we encounter the incredible elephant hawkmoth caterpillars which feed upon them – if we pulled up all the willowherb, they would be left without a foodplant so patches are always allowed to flourish. Such is the specificity of many of our invertebrates, that the same is likely to be true for many of the less charismatic species which equally rely upon a particular species of wildflower (or ‘weed’) which finds its home amongst the plants. Allowing a little wildness into the garden wherever you can will mean that a much wider range of species will find what they need in your little patch.

Not weeding so much is the ultimate easy way to get involved in 30 Days Wild – instead of getting down on your knees and cutting and digging, simply sit back with a cuppa and watch the insects which will appreciate your inactivity!

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