Incorporating native wild flowers into a herbaceous perennial border.
How to attract more wildlife to your garden using native plants as well as exotics.
If you've been wondering how to use native wild flowers more effectively in your garden then the answer is here. It doesn't always mean turning one corner of your garden into a wild untamed messy plot, that you soon lose interest in. Many of our native wild flowers are highly decorative, scented, and hardy enough to withstand whatever our weather can throw at them. From tall majestic spires, umbells and gently waving stems to compact ground cover plants, our native flora can fill any niche.
So read on, get inspired and start planning what changes you can make in your beds and borders.
It's so easy to grow native plants.
Let's be totally honest, they've been around long enough, they can adapt to anything.
Field scabious, yellow loosestrife and achillea blend together perfectly in a mixed herbaceous border.
Sow the seeds where you want them to grow.
Buying seeds of individual species is the cheapest way to go. But plug plants work just as well and give you a slight head start. Sowing most perennial native seeds requires a minimum of effort on your part. slightly disturb the soil with a hand fork, hoe or rake. Scatter a pinch of seed. Firm in (press the seed onto the soil surface with the back of your hand or a flat piece of wood) then go and have a cuppa. You've earned it. Any time of year is fine but optimum germination will happen between March and October when the soil is warm.
Jacob's Ladder is a fine native perennial. Growing in wood edges and hedgerows as well as open meadows. Many hybrids are available but you can't improve on something nature has already perfected.
What do you want from your garden?
I want to relax more, do less weeding and enjoy my garden. Ask yourself what your priorities are for your garden. Attracting more wildlife should be up there in the top three.
Purple loosestrife throws up tall spires of deep magenta flowers. Perfect for the back of a border along with spiked speedwell (seen in the background) delphiniums and lupins.
It all begins with the soil.
A decent loamy soil is ideal for most native and exotic plants, but if you have clay, sandy or chalky soil don't give up. Research what species will tolerate those conditions and spend money investing in what will thrive rather than wasting money on what will die.
The plants you choose will have an effect on the insects that visit. they in turn can attract other wildlife. Birds, amphibians and reptiles and small mammals. Your challenge as a wildlife friendly gardener is to create an ecosystem in your garden. One in which the wildlife contributes to the overall management of the space you share together.
Meadow Clary is a multi stemmed free flowering native that blends well into a herbaceous perennial border. Bees love it!
So what do you do after the seeds go in?
You sit back and wait. It's incredible how quickly native plants will establish and flower. They contribute massively to an already established herbaceous perennial border. I'm not one for large blocks or drifts, as used to be the fashion in garden design. Nature doesn't really operate that way. Dot in new plants in a more random array. Pinpoints of colour dappled throughout your border will create a more natural looking meadow style theme.
Greater knapweed is a stunning native perennial that flowers for months attracting butterflies and bees.
How do you maintain your native wild flower border?
A simple cut down at the end of the year, just as you would do in any herbaceous perennial border. Obviously I use a scythe, but shears can do the same job. Even hedge cutters. Be careful if you've used stakes or canes to support some of your exotic perennials, such as delphiniums. Remove these before wading in and cutting everything down. Remove all the cut plant matter and compost it. Shouldn't take too long depending on the size of your border. Then I would recommend another cuppa. Because you're worth it.
Where do you get your native wild flowers from?
Well, you can get them from Wilderness Tamed of course. There's a variety of individual species, as well as blended mixes, that do well in most soil types and provide nectar for pollinating insects. They also look stunning in a border. Buy yours here now
all picture credits go to me John Grundy. Taken in my own garden and some of my customers gardens. Top image shows native wild carrot and vipers bugloss in an established border.
John Grundy established Wilderness Tamed in 2012 after working for the National Trust for six years. Combining horticultural knowledge with conservation and habitat management skills a niche business offering wildlife friendly gardening services. Specialising in ponds, wild flower meadows and lawns as well as broader habitat maintenance. John also travels extensively teaching the art of scything.