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A recent stocktake of UK nature suggests 60% of animal and plant species have declined in the past 50 years. We have lost 97% of our wildflower habitats and most of our bumblebee species have greatly declined, with two species extinct in the UK since the 1940’s, while honeybee numbers have dropped by 50% in the last 25 years.
Sadly, three-quarters of British butterflies are in decline too, both in terms of their total numbers and their distribution across the UK. Even the most common and widespread butterflies have seen a 24% decline in abundance over the past ten years.
We can however make a massive impact in reversing this decline – by using our gardens! Our gardens cover an area that is more than all of our national nature reserves combined (about 270,000 hectares). Just imagine the impact if all those gardens were all filled with wildflowers. In fact for wildflowers to flourish they don’t even need to have a garden, many will grow well in window boxes, balcony pots and hanging baskets.
So, if you have only the smallest of spaces to grow wildflowers – don’t be put off! We visited Emily Lambert, co-founder of Seedball, and she has chosen 5 of her favourite wildflowers for small spaces:
Bird’s foot trefoil
Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is a native perennial wildflower with bright yellow and orange blooms. It is an important nectar and pollen source for insects and that it is visited by bumblebee as well as being an important foodplant for the caterpillars of the Common Blue, Silver-studded Blue and Wood White butterflies. Birdsfoot trefoil adapts well to garden containers and grows well in hanging basket trailing flowers over the edge of the basket
Flowers May-October. Dead head the flowers to keep the display going longer.
Wild marjoram is a native perennial with dark purple buds and pinkish purple flowers attracting beneficial insects and butterflies
Wild marjoram does well in small balcony pots and even in hanging baskets
Flowers April to November. Dead head the flowers to keep the display going longer.
If you are able to have a pot that’s approx. 30cm deep or more you will get an amazing display of oxeye daisy. Oxeye daisy is a native perennial and our largest native member of the daisy family. Oxeye daisy is one of the most important plants for pollinators, attracting a rage of pollinating species including bees, butterflies, beetles, ants, and moths. It establishes well and is extremely hardy.
Flowers May to September. Dead head the flowers to keep the display going longer.
The nectar-rich flowers of native perennial Red Clover are a favourite of many species of bee, including the Common Carder Bee, Honeybee and Red-tailed Bumblebee. Red clover are also a Pollen source for Honeybees and Bumblebees. Pollinated by bees and butterflies. Red clover grow well in pots, window boxes and hanging baskets. Dead head the flowers to keep the display going longer.
Perhaps one of our more surprising recommendations are poppies. Poppies are native annual wildflowers. We and our customers have grown them successfully in window boxes and patio pots and despite much literature suggesting their requirement for deep pots due to their root systems we have found them to miniaturise to match the depth of pot given. Bees love poppies, despite the fact that they lack inflorescences (meaning they don’t produce sugary sweet nectar), because poppies are a fantastic source of pollen.
Flowers May to July. Dead head the flowers to keep the display going longer.
Visit Seedball’s website here and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
‘Wildflower growing for biodiversity’ reaches the library on 24th March 2019