Wildflowers are a colourful, low-maintenance and cost-effective way to make your garden buzz with life. Particularly attractive to pollinators, they provide important food and shelter for a wide range of bees, butterflies and insects. What’s more, perennial wildflowers usually prefer poor soil, and often perform well in tricky areas where other plants fail to thrive.
But how do you incorporate wildflowers into a modern manicured garden? What if you don’t have space for a lawn, let alone a meadow? We sent boxes of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ wildflower mix to a dozen garden bloggers to try out. Here are 7 different ways to sow wildflower seeds in your garden, including what some of our favourite bloggers did with theirs…
1: Replace your lawn with a wildflower meadow
Maintaining a perfect lawn all year round can be a thankless task, so if you find that you don’t use it, why not simply let your lawn grow – adding some wildflowers into the mix for a constantly changing carpet of colour as well as a healthy ecosystem. Wildflower meadow lawns look fantastic with curving paths mowed through them. They draw your eye through the space and can be moved whenever you feel like a change.
Alexandra of The Middle Sized Garden wasn’t able to sow her T&M wildflowers this year due to adverse weather conditions, but next year she’s planning to replace the grass in her front garden with a pollinator-friendly mini meadow. Keep an eye on her blog to see how it turns out.
2: Create a wildflower border
Wildflowers provide important food for insects, as well as a place to shelter and breed. But you don’t need an entire meadow to make a difference – just a small corner of a regular sized garden will have an impact. The Chatty Gardener used her box of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ wildflower seeds to quickly fill a bare border with colour. She says:
“It’s become one of my favourite areas with a mix of annuals and perennials in various shades. They provide the sort of semi-transparent planting that I like and look really good against the reclaimed brickwork… I’m seriously considering recreating it next year.
Over at Agents of Field, Sophie and Ade also used their seeds to fill a border:
“They took a while to get going, but when they came good they looked great! It was a hive of activity, not only bees and bugs, but birds feeding on both the seeds and the bugs. Due to the recent hot weather, they’re now past their best but we’re very happy with the results.”
3: Contain your wildflowers in a raised bed
Modern gardens don’t always lend themselves to the slightly nostalgic feel of naturalised wildflowers. But if you want to contribute to your suburb’s superhighway for pollinators, don’t rule them out just yet.
Try using some geometrical raised beds, planters or containers to contrast with the frothy colour of your wildflowers. Sharp angular planters are perfect – think about painting the wooden railway sleepers of a raised bed with black paint for a contemporary and striking statement.
Over on Carrot Tops Allotment, Adam used his seeds to fill an assortment of hanging baskets and containers, which he says ‘gave a lovely show.’ Check out his blog to learn more.
4: Scatter wildflower seeds around your pond
Over at Weeds Up To Me Knees, Pete spent the summer working on his pond area – an important part of any wildlife-friendly garden. Having recycled broken paving slabs to create a rockery feel, he scattered his wildflower seeds in the cracks. Pete says:
Where I’ve planted them isn’t the sunniest place in the garden, but I’m down there with a watering can daily! I have faith in them. Even though I’m not getting that much out of them at the moment, I think when we get a spot of rain in the next few days they’ll come into their own.
5: Mix them into existing schemes
Any spare patches of ground, particularly under wigwam towers or around the edge of vegetable plots make great places to sprinkle a handful of wildflower seeds. A lack of rain has held back some people’s wildflowers this year – they do like a bit of water to get them going. Luckily Alison at The Blackberry Garden sowed her seeds in three different areas to find out where they’d feel most at home:
“The dry May didn’t help them but they’re doing well where I’ve used them to underplant my sweetpeas. They’re still developing as they’ve been held back a bit, but now we’ve had rain I’m hopeful they’ll romp away!
6: Plant a wildflower orchard
Whether you actually have fruit trees or you just want to capture the romance of an old English orchard using the regular trees in your garden, sowing drifts of wildflowers around their trunks will look gorgeous and save scrabbling around them with the lawn mower. Over at The Veg Grower Podcast, this is exactly what Richard plans to do:
“My plan is to create a mini orchard in my garden with the wildflower seeds sown under the trees to create the old fashioned orchard feel. Unfortunately Covid meant I was unable to get my fruit trees in the Spring and so I’ve spent the last few months concentrating on clearing the ground and ensuring it’s weed free before planting all my trees and wildflower seeds in the autumn.
We can’t wait to see the photos of Richard’s new orchard when he gets it all planted!
7: Go rogue!
Some pollinators can’t travel very far, so it’s really important that there are plenty of places for them to rest and recharge. This is even more important in towns and cities where there are fewer flowers to sustain them. One of our favourite bloggers, who shall remain anonymous, said that his garden is too small to lend itself to ‘drifts’ of wildflowers. He does, however, have another plan:
“My intention is to do a bit of ‘guerilla gardening’ and sow them in a publicly-owned space near to my house…My local council often sows wildflowers in ‘spare’ bits of ground, so I don’t think they would object, though they didn’t do it this year, due to other priorities. It would be quite satisfying if I could drive past an otherwise drab area and think ‘I sowed those flowers’!
While we admire the concept of spreading the love, we obviously can’t condone spreading the actual wildflowers themselves!
Thank you to all the bloggers who kindly let us know how their wildflower seeds fared this summer and gave us a number of interesting ideas for ways to use them. If you want more information, read How to sow wildflower seeds. And if you have any wildflower success stories to share, please get in touch via Facebook or Twitter. We always love to hear from you.
Since the first seed catalogue was published in 1855, Thompson & Morgan has grown to become one of the UK’s largest Mail Order Seed and Plant companies. Through the publication of our catalogues and the operation of our award-winning website, Thompson & Morgan is able to provide home gardeners with the very best quality products money can buy.