All the plants we suggest are beautiful, interesting and common species for a variety of situations, easy to grow (tried and tested), colourful and with relatively long flowering times. As the great plantsman Christopher Lloyd
used to say "They pay their rent in the garden". These plants are listed for their attractiveness and interest in their own right,
not just as food or nectar providers for garden animals.
Nearly all the plants listed are native to the British Isles, meaning they have arrived here without the help of humans, generally before the Neolithic period. Have a look at the Introduction to wildplants
page for more on definitions of wildflowers and their status. Some of the issues around the concept of "native" are explained on our page here
Be aware that nearly all of our attractive native plants have been taken up by horticulturalists and "improved" for sale as differently coloured or structured cultivars. In many cases these will be equally good for associated wildlife, but many enthusiasts consider the "wild" form more attractive.
Plant descriptions include common and scientific names, following Clive Stace's " New Flora of the British Isles" Fourth Edition. 2019.
For each plant we summarise:
• the approximate height and spread of the plants
• their flowering time. (Please note that flowering times given are approximate and will vary by a few weeks
between the north and the south of Britain.)
• some details of soil and sun preferences,
• alternative names if any
• suitable garden habitat and ease of cultivation.
• natural habitat,
• date first formally recorded,
• historical uses and cultural and folklore interest
• Royal Horticultural Society badges of value Plants for pollinators Award of Garden Merit
We also outline the benefits they provide as food and habitat for a range of insects and other animals, including some rarities unlikely to be found in gardens, although we urge you to value these plants for their own attractiveness!
To ensure you are planting really wild flowers, please source seeds and plants from nurseries specialising in wild flowers – a list of these is provided here
. General guidance on propagation methods are provided in a separate section.
We have grouped the plants roughly according to their preferred habitat in the garden:
• Annual beds to follow
Page written by Caroline Ware, compiled by Steve Head