This is my conclusion on beneficial flowers – not because that’s all there is to say, but simply because there is so much else to say – so many topics I’d love to cover with you!
I want to focus on what you should plant now so it will be in flower in early spring. In gardening (as in life!), it pays to think ahead to enable the best possible start for the following season and, as with a lot of flowers, they take time to mature.
Beneficial insect blend
This blend can be sown both autumn and spring and contains untreated seeds, which is always a good start as this will mean they self sow easily. If you are a busy person like me, time is of the essence. I decide on a patch, loosen the soil a little or, if hard, I put some organic seed raising mix on top, wet twice and scatter. After scattering I use a little fork and mix in, pat down and water again. I then water daily until germination. Best not to water in the sun as this will burn the little seedlings. I always let these go fully to seed then scatter into the next place I want them to grow. When you have enough, cut off the flower heads before they dry. If you are prone to birds digging around, I recommend laying a net over the top. I buy my blend from Kings Seeds
I absolutely love cornflowers and have several varieties that I have saved over the past few years. I usually do three sowings of cornflowers over the year, as they are a great cut and edible flower. I sow seeds now, so they will be ready to plant out in early spring, then I sow again in spring and early summer. A tea of cornflower petals is said to aid digestion amongst many other medicinal uses. The bees and butterflies also love these flowers. They bring in beneficial insects including lacewings and hover flies, which feed on aphids. Cornflowers prefer to grow in full sun in loose friable soil. Having said that though, I have grown them successfully in depleted soil that has been quite hard. I find a good mulch helps them grow and continuous picking and dead-heading gives your plants a much longer life.
I find growing bulbs for spring reminds me of my mum and the excitement in her voice when the bulbs would appear and spring was on its way. I like to plant tulips, daffodils, iris and crocus. When I was always moving from house to house, I used to plant in pots so I could take them wherever I went, which works really well. I plant these bulbs for joy and as a memory, not for any other reason.
This is a great, versatile plant to grow all year round. Today there are many different hybrids of Calendula out there. I only grow one kind – Calendula Officinalis – as I use the flowers to produce a healing cream with my own special recipe. Calendula Officinalis is a beneficial, sacrificial and medicinal plant. It is beneficial as it attracts aphids, greenshield bugs, black flies etc. which get stuck in its sticky centre over the summer months; it is also beneficial by being a great skin healer, (hence my cream). It calms muscle spasms, heals sunburn and the petals are great for an eyewash for expelling conjunctivitis. It is sacrificial in summer as it becomes infested with nasty bugs and insects as it dies off. The petals are also great in salads. This plant can be cut almost to the ground when it has gone to seed and it will regrow, I also grab a handful of dried seeds and scatter them around the garden.
Wild Flower Low Grow Blend and Roadside Blend
These are also another one of my favourites from Kings Seeds. I have had this growing for three consecutive years now, after it self seeded. This can be sown now or in spring. I personally like to do sow at both times. The important thing when sowing these seeds is the germination. These seeds won’t germinate on hard pan soils so, as mentioned above, I buy a bag of organic seed raising mix and put it on the patch where I want these to grow, then scatter the seed onto this, mix in and cover with some netting. The flowers that come up in this blend are beautiful! The pack contains many different varieties of beautiful flowers that will produce over a long time.
HAPPY GARDENING EVERYONE – benefit your gardens this Easter weekend with some beneficial flowers!