Thursday, 29 July 2010

Wildflower or weed?

I grow many wildflowers in the garden. Fleabane is one of my favourites. During this long dry spell, indeed the longest I have known, my wildflowers are still in full bloom. I have given them no attention, and they have not been watered. Let me show you just a few of the beauties I grow here.
Bistort, snakeweed.

Ribbed melilot.
Marsh mallow.
Yarrow

Meadow cranesbill.
Purple loosestrife.
Ragwort.......not for those that keep horses or cattle.
Corn marigold.
Yellow toadflax......my absolute favourite.
Ragged robin.........another favourite.
Nettle-leaved bellflower.
Next spring I shall remove perennials that have struggled during this continuous dry spell. I will be planting more native wildflowers. My aim, long term, is to have a wild flower garden. I have given it much thought. Wildflowers are the essence of the natural world. They are brilliantly equipped to survive the most hostile conditions. Sadly, at this time, these precious plants are facing their greatest challenge: to survive the loss of their natural habitats through intensive farming methods, and to compete against invasive foreign plant introductions. I intend to give them a chance here...........
Let me leave you with the introduction from 'Wild flowers of Britain and Ireland' by Rae Spencer-Jones and Sarah Cuttle......
For those of us fortunate enough to have grown up in the countryside or with a garden, wild flowers are inevitably woven into the fabric of our childhood. How many of us have memories of painstakingly constructing a daisy chain, holding a buttercup in hot sweaty hands beneath our chin to prove beyond doubt that we adore butter, or vigorously sucking on the flowers of a deadnettle to squeeze out the faintest trace of sweet nectar..........
Sweet memories.....I have done all three....how about you??

27 comments:

  1. Me too and carefully pressed some for my collection too! It is so true that wildflowers are inextricably woven into our childhoods if we grew up in the countryside - they tell of the different seasons, they can be used in games like He loves me, He loves me not, flicking the heads of plantains and so many more - you have tapped a real seam of memories for me with this post and your lovely photos Cheryl. Thank you.

    Jane

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  2. Hi Jane....ah, he loves me, he loves me not, I think we have all done that......sweet memories eh??

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  3. I have done all those childhood things ...and as Jane...I to have pressed many flower and 4 leafed clovers !!
    We also used to pick dandelions...do a 4 way split of the stem end ..place in water and they would roll up into a tight curl!!
    I love that we live in different countrys and have these same memories!!
    I have some of the same wildflowers here...the fleabane here is white with yellow center...I have never seen the Ragwort.. Corn marigold.. or the Ribbed Meliloit growing here!!!
    The Toadflax is one of my all time favorites too!!...we always refered to as the ""Bread and Butter Plant""
    Loosestrife is in full bloom here right now but is not well liked and has tryed to destroy because it is so invasive...I personally think it is beautiful!!!
    Ooop!!! Im rambling again!!
    Your pictures are lovely ...thanks for the memories!!!

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  4. Hi Cheryl,

    Although having never sucked the dead nettle I have made daisy chains and picked Buttercups… I’ve also done many more such as picking wild blackberries, blowing a dandelion clock and picking Bluebells. I have to agree that wildflowers are very important and am thrilled you have chosen to move purely to a wildflower garden.

    I aim to sow my ragged robin and various seeds in the coming weeks :)

    I’m loving your toadflax, ribbed melliot, corn marigold and Bistory – very nice!

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  5. Hmm, never done the dead nettle thing (wish I had known about it, and would still have a go now). Have done the other two. And do remember a beautiful pinky grey grass, whose seeds came off one one pinch of the hand (to be scattered everywhere) - last week when out with the dogs I gave in to the impulse to pull them off.
    From my childhood I also remember the 'itchy coos' from some types of roses that used to be planted near us.
    The ragged robin is lovely, and thank you for the introduction to toadflax!
    Dan
    -x-

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  6. There are so many reasons to grow native flowers and I can't think of a single reason not to. Not only are they able to survive anything the climate can throw at them, they are also the food sources and host plants for native wildlife. I'm adding more each year.
    Marnie

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  7. A lovely selection of natures true blooms. Envious...not half!!
    I'll admit to a few of the 'wild flower memories' except sucking on deadnettle. FAB.

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  8. No matter the subject, whenever I speak or teach, I always show a slide I call "1000 Words" which is a line drawing of native plant root lengths. It really brings home why natives can withstand both periods of drought and flooding--their root systems are so complex... and they evolved for whatever region they do well in. I have a lot, but not all natives. Everything has to survive in drought for me (except veggies, which I do water) because my garden is huge and I'm too cheap and lazy to be watering it all (except when newly planted/transplanted, then I soak them in well for weeks). It's funny because what we call fleabane is white with little yellow centers. :)

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  9. Hi Grammie....ah, 4 leaf clover, such fond memories of sitting with my brother on the lawn. First one to find the four leaf clover had the sweet that mother had given us.
    I am glad you like the toadflax.....it is such a beautiful little plant. It just arrived in my garden......I like the name bread and butter plant.

    Purple Loosestrife is invasive but like you, I love it.....the amount of bees and butterflies that settle on it's tiny blooms is amazing.......long may it invade my garden.

    Tku for dropping by.

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  10. Liz....blowing dandelion clocks....Poppi's favourite pastime. Picking bluebells....I can remember seeing children running with them, to take home to their mother. Wonderful memories.

    I have been thinking long and hard about a wild flower garden....I think, for me, it is the way to go. I shall also have a herb garden.....the thyme lawn is beautiful. I cannot believe that already the plants have knitted together, I shall extend the area next summer. Gosh I am doing it again, I am already thinking next summer!!

    Always remember I will send you seeds of anything you see here....just ask.

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  11. Hi Dan, do try the dead nettle 'thing'. You would not believe how sweet the nectar is.

    I know the grass of which you speak. I did the same thing as a child (and adult). We must always preserve the inner child.......

    If you would like seed from the ragged robin and the toadflax, please let me know.

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  12. Hi Frank....Ha! you always make me laugh.....

    If you would like some seeds from the wildflowers, just let me know which ones......

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  13. Hi Monica....strangely, I was reading an article on the root systems of wild plants (truly I was) the other day.
    Absolutely wonderful. So pleased to hear that your teachings include such information. You must be a wonderful lecturer.....

    I agree re watering......I am on a meter here so it is expensive. Water is such a precious resource.....unfortunately I have potted plants that have to be watered. I wish I had never planted them up, too late now.

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  14. Couldn't agree more Marnie.......natives are, without doubt, the best.

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  15. Thanks for that offer Cherl. I definitely need to see it for real and seek your advice. Cheers FAB.

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  16. They're all lovely, Cheryl! Yes, even though we've had enough rain most of the time this summer, it's the natives that are looking the best. I can see why you love the toadflax; is this also the plant that is called 'Butter and Eggs'?

    I'm afraid I haven't done any of the things mentioned in the wildflower book, but I did make dandelion "bouquets" as a child and made dolls out of hollyhocks. I also used to make bouquets out of Queen Anne's Lace and other wildflowers. Wouldn't a meadow full of wildflowers be beautiful?

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  17. Native is good for all the reasons you mentioned.
    Finding them is a little tricky.
    Think I have the snakeweed...all of yours are pretty.

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  18. I have done all three too, except the flower I tried to suck nectar from was honeysuckle. Your collection of wildflowers is gorgeous. Some of them give me ideas.

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  19. I had such a nice long reply and blogger ate it. But I totally agree with you about planting more wildflowers. I have tried to plant more natives each year and fewer others. As for containers, I have decided to look for those plants which will not need as much watering next year.( and I WILL plant fewer containers and not be seduced by all the gorgeous blooms next spring ;0 )

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  20. Hi Rose, although it will be a little sad taking out the perennials, after much thought I realise it will be the best thing to do for me and the garden. Although I have continued with the garden during the heat, I have found it a struggle, and felt quite exhausted at the end of the day.

    It will be a slow process but I have a vision now, and feel that wildlife will benefit far more from the changes.

    Bouquets from Queen Anne's Lace, how pretty.......flowers from our childhood, I have found it most delightful reading the comments on this post.

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  21. Hi Lisa.....how lovely, honeysuckle.

    Can't wait to see what ideas you come up with.

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  22. Hi Patsy....I am fortunate, in as much, that I have found a nursery that supplies wildflowers.
    It is a family run business and well known in these parts.

    I shall of course next year grow more from seed.......

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  23. Hi Beckie....blogger is doing lots of things it should not be doing at the moment.

    Containers are a chore, I do not know why we put pressures on ourselves. We can have beautiful spaces without the added work of containers.
    Mine are here to stay, as most of them have permanent plantings in. sigh.......

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  24. Oh yes, I have done all three too! And eating clover because it was so sweet! I am thinking along the same lines as you, Cheryl. My daisies are doing so well in the front yard. I just wanted a "wild spot" in my garden and threw a handful of wildflower seeds there to see what would happen. Well, as with yours, mine are doing better than any other plants. So I will focus on planting native too.

    I love the toadflax. They look so much like little fish, with open mouths. Also the marsh mallow. And the little bells, and....

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  25. Hi Wendy, eating clover, that is a first for me, how interesting.....

    Wildflower seeds are my weakness....Poppi and I often scatter them in the garden. I love the surprises they hold, you never know what will arrive.
    I look forward to seeing your mini-meadow on your blog, maybe?

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  26. Dear Cheryl,
    I also have gone to the wild side!
    Native wildflowers are depending on gardeners to protect them from becoming extinct. So many bugs depend on the wild flowers too. My gardens are also changing...
    Sherry

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  27. I have done all three--and eaten the honeysuckle and sweet clover as a child. My daughters have fond memories of me showing them how, and they added wild strawberries and dewberries to their menu.

    I am so excited for you as you turn your gardens into a wildflower sanctuary. It seems like the logical and natural thing to do since you are an advocate of wildlife. I think gardening is a progression--or should be. If you change nothing, how stagnant and boring it would become! But nature will not stand for it! Things die out naturally to be replaced with something else. I am enamored with the constant changing face of my garden. There are times (like this year!) when I think, "Oooo! I'll not plant that again!" Other times I am sad to see something reach the end of it's life cycle. Change can be good!

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