Native flowers are indigenous to the UK, meaning they have evolved to be perfectly suited to our soil, climate, and local wildlife. When we create gardens we make sure to include native flowers which will benefit the local wildlife as well as creating a gorgeous display.
October is a really good time to assess the spaces you have in your garden and plant these perennials. One tip: plant in bunches of 5-7 plants. This way you will be able to see how effective one species is, rather than have hundreds of different species dotted about.
Wildlife and flowers:
Wildlife and flowers can heavily rely on each other, as they are both needed for the survival of the other. Here are some specific examples of wildlife and their love for flowers:
- Bees: They play a crucial role in pollination, helping flowers reproduce. Honeybees and Bumblebees will rely on the nectar from garden flowers as a primary food source.
- Butterflies: These are also great pollinators, and they feed on the nectar from various flowers. By planting specific flowers, you can expect to see species such as the Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, and Painted Lady butterflies.
- Hoverflies: Although they look exactly like wasps, they are important pollinators, often attracted to shallow, open flowers such as daisies.
- Ladybirds: They are natural predators of aphids, working as a natural pest control in your garden. Planting flowers rich in nectar that attract ladybirds can be very beneficial to keep the pest populations in check.
- Moths: Also important pollinators, evening primrose and other nocturnal flowers are ideal to attract many moth species to your garden.
- Birds: Some flowers such as sunflowers produce seeds which are a food source for birds, if not the insects that exist around the flowers.
- Small mammals: Flowers are a great way to provide shelter and food sources for small mammals such as hedgehogs and shrews.
Here are some suggestions for specific native flowers you can host in your garden and what wildlife they’ll bring:
- Bluebell (Hyacinthoides): These woodland flowers provide an early-spring nectar source for bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. The chequered skipper butterfly really enjoys bluebell nectar, along with many moth species.
- Primrose (Primula Vulgaris): These bloom in early spring, and are loved by pollinators such as the Brimstone butterfly, and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.
- Foxglove (Digitalis): These tall flowers are admired by bees, especially ones with long tongues such as bumble and honey bees.
- Cowslip (Primula Veris): Yellow flowers which are an early source of nectar for bees, beetles, and brimstone butterflies.
- Cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus). Providing nectar for butterflies such as the Painted Lady, these have vibrant blue flowers. After their bloom, they also are a great seed source for Finches and Sparrows for example in the Autumn and Winter months.
- Meadowsweet (Filipendula Ulmaria). White flower clusters that bloom in summer are attractive to many pollinators. It is the food plant for the larvae of many moth species such as the emperor, grey pug, and mottled beauty moths to name a few.
- Harebell (Campanula Rotundifolia). Bell-shaped flowers that grow on slim stems. They are popular with many pollinators.
- Lily of the valley (Convallaria Majalis). Sweetly scented, bell-shaped white flowers, best planted between September and October. Especially loved by bees for its sweet smell and flowers.
- Dog-rose (Rosa Canina). Common in the South of the UK. It has pink flowers, and is fast-growing, without being invasive. Also a food source for blackbirds, redwings, and waxwings.
- Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum Vulgare). This flower is very popular with butterflies and is good to pair with other pollinator-friendly flowers. However, it can be very invasive. Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, and Painted Lady Butterflies are often seen around this flower.
- Viper’s-Bugloss (Echium Vulgare). This flowers between May and September, and supports a wide range of wildlife. This includes Buff-tailed and Red-Tailed Bumblebees, Honeybees and Red Mason Bees, and Large Skipper and Painted Lady Butterflies. I recently saw a field mouse half one up one having its breakfast.
Creating a flower garden that is not only beautiful but that is perfectly tailored to your surrounding wildlife is a perfect way to encourage many visitors to your garden, and support your local ecosystems!
What to do in October:
Now is the time to move plants around the garden or plant up new ones.
The soil is still warm for the roots to establish but there is less chance of the plants drying out.
You can divide most Perennials now including Rhubarb and balance up your garden by taking the other half to a different place.
You can still plant lettuce and can start sowing Chinese winter greens and Spring Cabbage.
Repairing your lawn can start now with the cooler weather, either using pre grown turfs or seeding into prepared earth.
Your lawn treatment can start this month with aerating the garden with a strong fork and raking out moss and thatch.
Lastly you can cut back shrubs like Buddlea and Lavatera to about half their height to neaten them up and prevent strong winter winds rocking them about- the more fundamental pruning happens in Spring
Perfect time to order and plant bulbs.
Where to go in October:
This is a good time to visit the Knepp estate. Isabella Tree’s pioneering work to rewind a part of West Sussex. You can turn up at the car park (before 5.30pm) and you will be given a map of the rewilded areas. Ring for more information on 014037412235.