Why do you grow wild flowers

I actively grow wild flowers on purpose. My front yard is full of European natives and other wild flowers from all over. Like all things plants need wide genetic diversity and to allow wild flowers to die out or become so rare you cannot see them growing is shocking to me.

I used to dislike the big name seed and plant catalogues as they would offer the same old things time and time again, although many are getting better. Nothing is wrong with growing marigolds and such like in fact they make a cheerful summer garden at an affordable price, but the unassuming beauty of natives and wild plants is by far the bigger attraction for me.

I carefully choose plants that enjoy the conditions the garden offers rather than make back breaking work for myself trying to change the nature of the soil or force a plant to live where it is unhappy. (mainly because I'm lazy) No, they don't always grow for whatever reasons but the majority grow very well.

My neighbours turned their noses up in disgust at first, well a bathroom sink, a heap of rubble and long grass isn't very pretty until everthing has become established LOL. Now they comment on the amount of wildlife especially insects, amphibians and birds that visit a 30ftx30ft garden.

I'll never win the Britain in Bloom awards but I think I get more pleasure from watching all the insect industry and the plants flourishing than any shiny plaque.

Rethymno, Crete, Greece(Zone 10b)

Baa, I agree with you all the way. Plus a few other things:
Wild plants have not enjoyed the gardeners' care and yet they bloom - perhaps with a little more attention they may reveal a really spectacular picture
Wild plants grow just in front of the flower beds with the roses and the bougainvilleas - perhaps they show us that our definitions of gardening need some radical review
Wild plants are almost always strong fighters and survivors.
Wild plants are here to remind us that much past human knowledge about their properties is lost, and needs to be found again

I enjoy, as much as anyone else, cultivars and hybrids - but I am ecstatic in front of the beautiful 1800 endemic species that grow in Crete where I live. I do my best to study them, photograph them, save their seeds and give them to friends, grow them and enjoy them. I have found that many others want to learn about and enjoy them. They give up the effort to cover their land with lawn that is impossible to keep in Crete with 4 - 5 months drought

As for the Britain in Bloom awards, I must say that you British make miracles with flowers, and wild flowers have been in your explorative souls for centuries: the notes and archives at the Kew are unique, I think. I have noticed that wildflowers are getting more and more acceptance and I have already seen them in many places in the UK.

So, keep on trying, perhaps the shiny plate is nearer than you think.

Dimitri

This message was edited Monday, Jun 4th 5:46 PM

I have a lot of wild flowers in my garden, but in my last one we had over 80 different species, which attracted 16 different butterflies, quite a lot for England. I also grow alpines, which are only the wild flowers of other regions, un'improved' by man. They fit in very well with our own wild plants.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

I guess i'd have to say first of all, because they are there - right there without any effort on my part (I, too, am a lazy gardener!), and because I KNOW I will have success with a flower or shrub that chose the place it's in. Also, because I seem to be most fond of the simpler flowers. I have no time for the really showy, hard to grow hybrids that want my full attention, or like spoiled children, throw fits and make themselves ill! We are blessed here in the NE US with a very wide variety of beautiful natives and I have had the privilege of sharing seeds of them with gardeners in other countries. Diversity is important to all of our ability to survive, and I hope to help keep my little corner as diverse as possible.

(Zone 7a)

Because I love them and because the grasshoppers don't kill them.

Lyles, TN

Here are the 3 wild terrestrial orchids native to TN: Cypripedium parviflorum, syn. pubescens,(yellow ladies' slipper) Goodyeara pubescens,(rattlesnake plantain) and Tipularia unifolia syn. discolor (one-leaved orchid)

Durham, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

If you're in the uk, you'll probably like this site as will people overseas, interested in wild plants. It names the native plants to your area, there are hundreds listed all with pics.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/science/projects/fff/

just put in the 1 1/2 of your postcode (mine's dh4) and you're away.

Highly recommended.

lil

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

As some may know I, spent this last spring , photographing, and collecting seed from the Mojave Desert this last spring. I still have a few to collect! I have over 40! It was fun and exhausting. I am trying to learn all I can, as fast as I can. I had a Desert Flora Photo Gallery on one site,but the site is going down So it will a week or so before I can post a link again. It was so much fun. I purchased a couple of good books on the local flora. My DH drove me all over, my kids, put up with me , saying"Stop the Car!" Poor dears. I have been obscessed. My plan is to grow a native garden, and preserve these wonderful plants, Trees, wildflowers. I am afraid they will be threatened as well. I have learned to identify the seedlings popping up in my yard. And NOT removing them and letting them do what they will. Tell me, what kind of stuff grows there? Baa? and how you been by the way? Michele

Hey Michele!

I'm good thanks and you?

Everything grows here, well OK desert plants would struggle but most things, I could post the list but its well over 300 names in the garden right now LOL. I'd love to see what you have collected so far, sounds like a lot of hard work but great fun.

We can't really collect seed from the wild here, being a small island with a rapidly expanding population we have few spaces left for the wildlife, taking plants and (some) seed is an offense which carries a fine. The one thing which has helped conserve a few species is the motorway! Large banks of earth where people can't walk have been colonised by many wildflowers and just near where I work is a mass of Dactylorhiza majalis orchids stretching almost a quater of a mile long. I'd take a picture but I can't stop to do it LOL.

A lot of American natives are also found here and I've successfully incorporated a few in the borders. I'm fond of foxgloves, aquilegias and well anything which will do well, including the plantains which have their weird flowers open right now. I've been posting a few pictures on the photos forum but my digital camera is a kids one (bought from Sears for just a few dollars) and not that great.

The garden will be in full bloom by august so I hope to keep posting those pictures for a long while yet.

Joshua Tree, CA(Zone 8b)

Well Baa, I am on the mend. I have bored everyone to tears with my Cat Bite. In short I was bit,it got pretty bad. I have been on meds. I am getting better. I look forward to your pictures. What kind of aquilegias are there? . I like the little plaintain flowers too.
I am doing all I can to inspire others to get to know the natives in their area, and grow them in their gardens.I have found a wide diversity of flowers, I never imagined existed here. I still wonder how I missed them before. I have lived here 13 years. If you open your eyes , you will see!

A cat bite??? What? How? and I really hope it gets better soon, I'm imagining a tiger here LOL

Europe has only one native aquilegia, A. vulgaris although the garden has produced various doubles. One picture I have posted on the photo forum is one of a pompom aquil, very pretty, another simply entitled Dove which is a real stunner. I grow A. vulgaris (various forms) A. bertholdii, A. viridiflora, A. skinnerii, A. fragrans and A. atrata. All aquils do well here, without a wet winter, and have given a great display this year.

I'm glad to see other people like yourself encouraging wild flowers in the garden. Theres not much I can think of that are easier to grow and yet its quite tough to find anything other than scabious, golden rod (how many of us have made that mistake!) and spearmint.

One of the biggest surprises of the year for me was the discovery of a wild rock rose in a heavy clay garden! I'd planted it in the hope that it would do something 5 years ago. Everything overgrew it and I thought that was that, but there it is waving its bright yellow crepe paper petals in the wind at me. Is it defiance of my neglect? I'd like to think its a greeting LOL (but then I'm daft).

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Oh lordy, if that's daft I'm on the cart! What a wonderful thing to happen.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

Nice to see I'm not the only one. I've hit roadsides and woods more than once this season. Ostrich and sensitive ferns (OK, the ostrich ferns popped up through my dying grass...), Queen Anne's lace, black-eyed susans, chicory (I never thought it would survive the transplant, but it did), creeping Jenny, sweet clover, birdfoot trefoil, wood anemones, and a couple I haven't found the names for. And I fully intend to get some more. Sigh of contentment...

Lorain, OH(Zone 5b)

I have been trying to explain to my neighbor that I do not think of my wildflowers as weeds and it really irks me when she pulls them, she recently pulled up my finest Queen Annes Laces, (I asked her she admitted it) she is very well meaning, Also we have a language barrier, my Spanish is terrible. I recently discovered a new flower out by my vegggie garden, it's a pretty blue thing, I'll have to look it up. My Dragon's Blood Sedum blew in on the wind,(nobody else around has it) now I have a beautifull stand of it, for free! Did you know that if you chew the leaves of Plantain and then put it on Bee or Wasp stings that it takes away the pain almost immediately? (tastes bitter) I love my wildflowers.

Ottawa, ON(Zone 4a)

Oy! That would be very frustrating. There must be some way to communicate to her "Please don't touch my garden!" A bit of culture clash going on there too, I imagine.

My in-laws are Italian, and I was raised in an Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic kind of household and believe me, it has taken some getting used to! Totally different set of reflexes involved. What is normal, acceptable behaviour to one side definitely isn't on the other.

And it's always hardest to handle the well-meaning types because they really don't intend any harm. When I was too exhausted to handle my flower beds one year, my husband "helped". Pulled out my perennials and left the weeds...

Louisville, KY(Zone 6a)

I too have been roadside shopping this year on several occasions. I now travel with shovel and hand spade! LOL Just in case!
My husband and I have sprinkled wildflower mixes in areas where we were having trouble getting things to grow. Those shaker cans are loaded with seeds and for the money a great deal. I thoroughly enjoyed the dames rocket this spring when they all bloomed. At first I had kno idea what they were, and I had thrown away the container that told what all was in it. A great was to get lots of flowers for little effort or money!

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