Posts tagged ‘dandelions’

April 4, 2013

Wildflowers I grow in the garden

4 April 2013

Teasel seed heads in front of verbena bonariensis flowers

Teasel seed heads in front of verbena bonariensis flowers

  Wild flowers I grow for wildlife (or which grow themselves and I tolerate) include:

  • Brambles (only in the hedge!) – flowers are good for butterflies; it is the foodplant for many moth caterpillars and butterflies will feed on the blackberries
  • Dandelions – brilliant for early nectar
  • Devil’s-bit scabious – almost all scabious flowers are good for insects
  • Teasels – fantastic value: the butterflies like the flowers and goldfinches go for the seeds
  • Woodruff – foodplant for several moth caterpillars and brilliant in the garden: I’ve even got some growing at the foot of a leylandii hedge, where little else will survive.
  • Red dead-nettle, for very early nectar – the photo below was taken on 18 Feburary this year.
  • White deadnettle for bees and caterpillars – and because I like it!
  • Garlic Mustard (also known as Jack-by-the-hedge and many other common names). Caterpillar foodplant of the Green-veined White and the Orange Tip. It dies down by mid summer, so it’s out of the way.
Red dead-nettle

Red dead-nettle

February 14, 2013


14 February 2013

We’ve had the first sunshine for days today – a great boost to the spirits. My snowdrops have been out for a while, but the flowers only open completely when it’s sunny, so I’ve been waiting to catch a photo of them.  I’ve got them under the bushes all down one side of the garden: they don’t do so well on the other side. It’s a bit early for any wildlife to make use of them, but any bee that comes out of hibernation early might try them, and a butterfly was seen nectaring on snowdrops (not by me) last year, but that is really rare.




Providing plants that flower early to provide nectar for early butterflies and bees is very important: there isn’t much around, and the insect will be in need of a quick fuel boost. 

For me, the best early plant for bees is red dead-nettle, and the best for butterflies is the humble dandelion. Yes, I know it’s a weed, but have you ever stopped and really looked at one? They are beautiful flowers, and not only will the odd early butterfly enjoy them, but if you can leave a few seedheads, the goldfinches will enjoy them too – and you can’t say they are difficult to grow! 

Peacock butterfly on dandelion

Peacock on dandelion

If you insist on flowers you don’t think of as weeds, very early flowers could include crocus, narcissi and aubretia. A little while after those come pernennial wallflowers (erysimums), sweet rocket (hesperis matronalis) and honesty.