Garden Wildplants
             Garden Wildplants
Wild plants and fungi in the garden
 
 
 
     There is a tremendous range of form and colour in our wild plants - why not use some in your garden?
 
 
It is rather strange and silly that nearly all books and websites about garden wildlife concentrate almost exclusively on the animals that live in gardens - and even then mostly on the ones we like such as birds, bees and butterflies. Plants are generally relegated to the role of nectar sources or fodder for caterpillars.
 
The Wildlife Gardening Forum considers that wildlife gardens should be seen as a resource for wild plant biodiversity as well as for vertebrates and invertebrates. There are a few constraints, such as the fact that while insects and birds can freely migrate in or out of your garden, most plants are less mobile and need actively to be established. Your carefully maintained wildflower area will be lost when you move, if the next occupant of the house isn't keen on wild plants. Because of this gardens may not be ideal reservoirs for long-term conservation of wild plants, but that is no reason not to encourage them, and by so doing, help more people understand, enjoy and respect our wildflowers. Furthermore, propagating wild flowers in gardens is a great way to provide material for restoring wild populations and for re-wilding projects – get in contact with your local conservation group to find out what is needed.
 
Of all the special interests recorded by people signing on as members of the Forum, wildflowers was by far the most commonly recorded.  We are creating our plants pages based on suggestions from our members as to the information they would most value.
 
The Background section on the menu introduces  what wild plants are, and why they are really interesting, the history of their use in gardens, how to propagate them and where to buy them from.
 
 
Sorts of plants
We are dividing the plants up into standard categories based on their evolutionary relations and structural complexity.
 
Vascular plants are the most "advanced" species, and all share internal "plumbing" with special cells forming fluid conducting vessels in the stems and leaves.  Xylem vessels are pipes bringing water from the roots to all the rest of the plant.  Phloem vessels carry sugars and chemicals made in the leves to the rest of the plant including underground storage structures like tubers.  In the spring when stored reserves are needed, these are brought back up to the growing parts oif the plant.  Vascular plants include the ferns and their relatives, which have a primitive reproductive system using spores and two life cycle stages, while the rest are the "higher" plants which make seeds, including the gymnosperms (conifers) and the angiosperms (flowering plants)
 
Mosses and liverworts are two groups of small land plants, sometime disparagingly called "lower plants", which lack vascular (or support) tissue, and are generally but not exclusively confined to damp habitats.  Like ferns they reproduce through tiny spores which can drift long distances in the wind or be carried on birds.  Because of this, there is no knowing what might turn up in your garden, and more studies would be welcome.
 
Algae are the understudied cinderellas of the plant world.  Largely microscopic, they abound in marine, freshwater soil and terrestrial habitats.  They drive the ecology of seas and lakes as the most important primary producers  and aquatic algae produce half the world's oxygen. The term "algae" is a rag-bag word for a number of unrelated evolutionary lines, which are largely photosynthetic but not vascular or lower plants. While gardens lack the big multicellular seaweed algae, they can contain quite a diversity, especially in ponds.
 
Fungi aren't plants at all (see below) but are vital in all ecosystems as creatures breaking down dead matter so it can be recycled.  They are in our soil, in our lawn, parasites on plants and animals - and in symbiosis with phtosynthetic organisms (mainly algae) they create hybrid organisms called lichens.
 
 
Most plants are described in their own profile pages, accessed via a grouping, such as "hedge plants".  We will be adding to these as more pages are written.
 
 
 
Page written and compiled by Steve Head
Introduction to plants and fungi
 
OK, we know that fungi are not plants but a Kingdom in their own right, and are actually more closely related to animals than plants, within the Opisthokonta.  However, for most people, the non-mobile, plant-like nature of fungi means they are thought of in the same way as plants, even if they are not green and can't photosynthesise.   Lichens are a special case of a deep symbiosis between plants and fungi.
 
 
 
 
 
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       Garden Wildplants
             Garden Wildplants
This part of our website introduces the wild plants and fungi that will either invite themselves into your garden, or which you could bring in because you like them. Most plant species in most gardens are horticultural varieties, most of which have their origins outside Britain and Ireland. Between 1975 and 1986, nearly 60% of the 360 species of plant in Jennifer Owen's garden originated from overseas.  In this section we concentrate on wild plants native to Britain and Ireland, rather than the horticultural ones usually recommended for planting in a wildlife garden.
OK! we know that fungi are not plants but a Kingdom in their own right, and are actually more closely related to animals than plants, within the Opisthokonta.  However, for most people, the non-mobile, plant-like nature of fungi means they are thought of in the same way as plants, even if they are not green and can't photosynthesise.
 
 
 
 
Wild plants and fungi in the garden
 
 
 
This part of our website introduces the wild plants and fungi that will either invite themselves into your garden, or which you could bring in because you like them. Most plant species in most gardens are horticultural varieties, most of which have their origins outside Britain and Ireland. Between 1975 and 1986, nearly 60% of the 360 species of plant in Jennifer Owen's garden originated from overseas.  In this section we concentrate on  wild plants native to Britain and Ireland rather than the horticultural ones usually recommended for planting in a wildlife garden.
There is a tremendous range of form and colour in our wild plants - why not use some in your garden?
 
 
It is rather strange and silly that nearly all books and websites about garden wildlife concentrate almost exclusively on the animals that live in gardens - and even then mostly on the ones we like such as birds, bees and butterflies. Plants are generally relegated to the role of nectar sources or fodder for caterpillars.
 
The Wildlife Gardening Forum considers that wildlife gardens should be seen as a resource for wild plant biodiversity as well as for vertebrates and invertebrates. There are a few constraints, such as the fact that while insects and birds can freely migrate in or out of your garden, most plants are less mobile and need actively to be established. Your carefully maintained wildflower area will be lost when you move, if the next occupant of the house isn't keen on wild plants. Because of this gardens may not be ideal reservoirs for long-term conservation of wild plants, but that is no reason not to encourage them, and by so doing, help more people understand, enjoy and respect our wildflowers. Furthermore, propagating wild flowers in gardens is a great way to provide material for restoring wild populations and for re-wilding projects – get in contact with your local conservation group to find out what is needed.
 
Of all the special interests recorded by people signing on as members of the Forum, wildflowers was by far the most commonly recorded.  We are creating our plants pages based on suggestions from our members as to the information they would most value.
 
The Background section on the menu introduces  what wild plants are, and why they are really interesting, the history of their use in gardens, how to propagate them and where to buy them from.
 
 
Sorts of plants
We are dividing the plants up into standard categories based on their evolutionary relations and structural complexity.
 
Vascular plants are the most "advanced" species, and all share internal "plumbing" with special cells forming fluid conducting vessels in the stems and leaves.  Xylem vessels are pipes bringing water from the roots to all the rest of the plant.  Phloem vessels carry sugars and chemicals made in the leves to the rest of the plant including underground storage structures like tubers.  In the spring when stored reserves are needed, these are brought back up to the growing parts oif the plant.  Vascular plants include the ferns and their relatives, which have a primitive reproductive system using spores and two life cycle stages, while the rest are the "higher" plants which make seeds, including the gymnosperms (conifers) and the angiosperms (flowering plants)
 
Mosses and liverworts are two groups of small land plants, sometime disparagingly called "lower plants", which lack vascular (or support) tissue, and are generally but not exclusively confined to damp habitats.  Like ferns they reproduce through tiny spores which can drift long distances in the wind or be carried on birds.  Because of this, there is no knowing what might turn up in your garden, and more studies would be welcome.
 
Algae are the understudied cinderellas of the plant world.  Largely microscopic, they abound in marine, freshwater soil and terrestrial habitats.  They drive the ecology of seas and lakes as the most important primary producers  and aquatic algae produce half the world's oxygen. The term "algae" is a rag-bag word for a number of unrelated evolutionary lines, which are largely photosynthetic but not vascular or lower plants. While gardens lack the big multicellular seaweed algae, they can contain quite a diversity, especially in ponds.
 
Fungi aren't plants at all (see below) but are vital in all ecosystems as creatures breaking down dead matter so it can be recycled.  They are in our soil, in our lawn, parasites on plants and animals - and in symbiosis with photosynthetic organisms (mainly algae), they create hybrid organisms called lichens.
 
Most plants are described in their own profile pages, accessed via a grouping, such as "hedge plants".  We will be adding to these as more pages are written.
 
Page written and compiled by Steve Head
OK! we know that fungi are not plants but a Kingdom in their own right, and are actually more closely related to animals than plants, within the Opisthokonta.  However, for most people, the non-mobile, plant-like nature of fungi means they are thought of in the same way as plants, even if they are not green and can't photosynthesise.