The Silver Birch (Betula pendula) is one of our most recognisable UK native trees with its glorious silvery-white bark and dainty green leaves. We’re not the only ones to have an affinity with Betula pendula, this stunning tree is a native plant of many countries in Europe and Northern Asia. Betula pendula is a deciduous tree, its leaves turn from green to a buttery yellow before falling in autumn.
In the UK, Prunus spinosa is usually known by its common name – Blackthorn. I am sure that Prunus spinosa has many common names, as this is a widespread plant that can be found growing in the wild across Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Prunus spinosa can be grown as a shrub, a hedge, or a tree. These plants are very spiny and they often form thickets.
Ilex aquifolium is the commonest holly we have in the UK; plants can be found growing both in the wild and as cultivated, garden plants. This holly species can be used as container plants, hedging, or specimen trees. Ilex aquifolium is native to West Asia, North Africa, Southern and Western Europe, including the UK (Ilex aquifolium is absent from the Outer Hebrides, the Shetland Isles, and Orkney).
Myosotis scorpioides alba is also known as the Water Forget-Me-Not. This pretty plant requires continually wet conditions; Myosotis scorpioides alba grows in reliably wet bog gardens, as well as in streams, and ponds. If you have a patio garden and don’t have room for a pond you can still grow Myosotis scorpioides alba by creating a container pond or bog garden .
Ranunculus flammula is an aquatic plant with beautiful shining-yellow, bowl-shaped flowers. This plant’s common name is Lesser Spearwort, but it’s very much like a lovely buttercup to grow in a pond! Ranunculus flammula can be grown in streams, ponds, lakes, or continually wet bog gardens; if you don’t have a pond, you could grow Ranunculus flammula in a container filled with rainwater.
Lonicera periclymenum is a gorgeous plant. This is an easy-going climber that’s very eager to grow. Plants confidently cover fences and archways, weaving their magic as they stitch hedgerows together. Lonicera periclymenum is a wild plant of many European countries; with such high numbers of people feeling connected to this lovely plant there is likely to be a multitude of common names for Lonicera periclymenum, it’s often known as Honeysuckle.
Allium cristophii is a superb species of Allium that can be seen growing as a wildflower in Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Iran. If you’re looking for plants to provide pollen and nectar for insects, you’ll be happy to hear that Allium cristophii flowers attract a wide range of bees and other pollinating insects, and this Allium species simply thrives in the UK!
Alliaria petiolata is a commonly found wildflower in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. Whenever its foliage is bruised, crushed, or trampled, this plant’s leaves release a scent that’s reminiscent of garlic; as a consequence, in the UK, Alliaria petiolata is often called Garlic Mustard, or Hedge Garlic. Another common name for Alliaria petiolata is Jack-by-the hedge, which reflects one of this plant’s habitats and Alliaria petiolata’s prominence as a plant that lines our hedgerows.
Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ is an absolutely stunning foxglove! Plants produce tall spires of fantastically beautiful, tan coloured flowers; each individual bloom is enhanced by a gorgeous rusty coloured veining. The whole effect of a Digitalis ferruginea ‘Gigantea’ plant in bloom is truly breathtaking. I remember the first time I saw these foxgloves in flower during a garden visit, I instantly knew that I simply had to grow these plants in my own garden and promptly ordered some seeds!
Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora is the botanical name for our naturally occurring, white-flowered form of Digitalis purpurea – the foxglove. I adore both our pink-flowered foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) and this stunning white-flowered form – they’re two of my favourite plants. I’ve grown foxgloves in every garden I’ve created; I used to grow foxgloves at my allotment, too; I simply can’t be without these fabulous plants!
Digitalis purpurea is the botanical name for one of our stunning wildflowers – the foxglove. Foxgloves are charming plants that produce towering spires of handsome pink-purple flowers in June, July, and August. We may chance upon Digitalis purpurea plants during country walks. Groups of Digitalis purpurea flowers brighten our walks as we traipse through woodlands or heathlands, along coastal paths, over banks and hillsides, and alongside hedges and towpaths.
Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ are statement plants with large vibrant orange coloured, pendulous flowers that really create impact in the garden. Often referred to as Crown Imperials, these bulbous perennials form tall plants that reach up to around 1m (3.2ft) tall.
I’ve grown my Fritillaria imperialis ‘Aurora’ in large containers of peat-free compost. I’ve found these Fritillaries to be strong and sturdy plants that haven’t required any staking or support.
Primula vulgaris are low growing, perennials that form basal rosette shaped plants, made up of beautifully textured, wrinkled, obovate leaves. These small plants are generally known as primroses. Primula vulgaris are popular wild flowers; they’re often found growing in gardens, the countryside, and in urban areas across Europe. Primroses are hardy; plants will happily survive temperatures down as low as -20C (-4F), and probably lower.
Kale (also known by the botanical name Brassica oleracea var. sabellica) is an absolutely wonderful vegetable to grow and eat! This is a decorative, and I think, a very beautiful plant; there are a wide range of kale varieties that gardeners can grow from seeds. Not all kales are the same; we can sow seeds that will develop into kale plants that display a range of leaf shapes and textures, produce a selection of contrasting, yet attractively coloured leaves, as well as plants that deliver subtle differences in flavour.
Landcress tastes almost exactly like Watercress, except this vegetable is grown on dry land. If you’re a Watercress fan, or you favour peppery, spicy flavours, then you really must try growing Landcress; I am quite certain you’ll adore it! Landcress (also known as American Cress or by the botanical name, Barbarea verna) is a super-easy vegetable to grow; Landcress grows happily in less than ideal growing conditions and it’s both productive and tasty, too!
Alpine strawberries or wild strawberries (also known by their botanical name Fragaria vesca) are small, low growing, plants that trail along the ground, spreading via runners; these pretty little plants can grow up to around 15cm (6 inches) tall. I adore alpine strawberries! These dainty little plants are utterly charming, with attractive leaves, delightful white flowers, and the delicious red strawberries they produce.
For some reason, turnips are often under-rated, both by cooks and gardeners. I adore growing turnips and I absolutely relish the taste of these deliciously sweet vegetables. I enjoy eating raw and cooked cooked turnips, both are delightful! In my home, we use turnips in risottos, stir fries, soups, salads, or as a side dish. Turnips taste great raw, roasted, stir fried, steamed, boiled, or sautéed.
Swiss Chard (also known by the botanical name Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens) is a magnificent vegetable that brings a touch of its own exquisite beauty to the gardens and allotments where it’s grown. This is another vegetable with an array of common names, it’s also called: Leaf Beet, Chard, Rhubarb Chard, and Rainbow Chard. For ease of reference, I try my best to stick to calling this vegetable Swiss Chard; although I do also call it Chard from time to time – sorry about that.
Celeriac (also known by the botanical name Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) is not the easiest vegetable to grow; these plants have a long growing season and the seeds need to be started off in the warmth, fairly early in the season. Celeriac seedlings will need to be protected inside a glasshouse, polytunnel, or conservatory, until all risk of frost has passed.
Skirret (also known by the botanical name Sium sisarum) is a perennial root vegetable, which enjoyed great popularity in the medieval and Tudor periods, but sadly is rarely grown nowadays. I expect Skirret’s fall from favour is due to this vegetable producing thinner roots than carrots and parsnips and therefore being far more fiddly and difficult to clean and prepare than these more popular root vegetables.