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 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.
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.
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.
Parsnips (also known by their botanical name Pastinaca sativa) are supremely sweet tasting, delicious vegetables. Parsnips are easy to grow, but their seeds often take a number of weeks to germinate and these vegetables require a long growing season to develop their full size and potential; therefore parsnips benefit from being started early in the season.
If you’re looking to grow parsnips, choose a sunny or partially shaded site, with moist but well-drained soil.
Cornsalad ‘Medallion’ (Valerianella locusta) is a super easy to grow salad plant. This is an annual plant that produces edible green, oval rounded leaves, with a subtle mild flavour.
I’ve grown cornsalad ‘Medallion’ in a really shaded position inside my Vegepod; my plants have thrived, despite the fact that they were grown in such challenging growing conditions. My cornsalad ‘Medallion’ plants produced an amazing harvest of leaves throughout the autumn and winter months.
Blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) are hardy deciduous shrubs that thrive in warm and sunny, sheltered sites. These naturally bushy plants will grow in almost any well-drained soil. Blackcurrants enjoy regular watering throughout the summer months; these fruits will tolerate a wetter soil through the growing season, providing the ground isn’t too wet during the winter months. These productive fruits can be grown in full sunshine or partial shade.
Rhinanthus minor (often called Yellow Rattle) is a hardy annual wildflower with handsome yellow flowers that are held hostage by pumped up, yet slightly flattened, calyxes, each one flanked by a toothed green leaf. Plants grow in meadows, grasslands, and prairies, flowering during the summer moths. This is a widespread species that’s a native plant of many European countries.
If you’re looking for a glimpse of Rhinanthus minor, you’ll often find this wildflower growing in grassy places.
Centaurea nigra has many common names, including Hardheads, Common Knapweed, and Lesser Knapweed. This hardy perennial can be found growing as a wildflower across Europe. Plants don’t need any special care, making these herbaceous perennials great plants to grow in containers, or as part of low-maintenance gardens, wildflower gardens, meadows or pastures.
This is a great plant for wildlife. In the UK, Centaurea nigra flowers from June until September.
Arctium lappa can be found growing wild across Europe, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean, as well as other locations around the world. In the UK, Arctium lappa is more commonly known as Greater Burdock, but I’m sure that this plant has a range of common names, as it’s a native plant of so many countries.
This is an edible and medicinal plant that is grown or foraged for food and medicine.
Achillea millefolium is a herbaceous perennial that produces lovely ferny, scented foliage and large flat flower heads; each flower is made up of numerous individual florets. This is a wildflower of the UK, as well as many countries in Europe and Asia. Plants have spread further afield to colonise other countries and continents, after Achillea millefolium was used as an arable feed and escaped from gardens.
Origanum onites is one of my favourite plants; its a pretty little thing with a long flowering period; plants bloom over the summer months. This is a superb plant for a wildlife garden. Origanum onites plants produce an abundance of these sweet, dainty flowers that are adored by bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and moths. Commonly known as marjoram, Origanum onites is a culinary and medicinal herb with aromatic leaves that will enhance a wide variety of culinary dishes.
Echium vulgare is a hardy biennial with hairy stems; plants produce pretty pink buds, which open as sky-blue coloured flowers. This is a superb plant for a wildlife garden, as whilst it’s blooming, Echium vulgare is a veritable bee magnet!
This is a UK native plant that can also be found growing naturally in the wild in other European countries. Echium vulgare thrives in areas that are out in the open and warmed by the sunshine.
Cauliflowers (also known by their botanical name Brassica oleracea) are vegetables that thrive in rich fertile soils; these crops flourish when given regular waterings. Cauliflowers aren’t the easiest vegetable to grow: you will need to have fertile soil, that’s free of Club Root to succeed and grow lovely big cauliflowers. But in good conditions, cauliflowers are very rewarding to grow; gardeners can grow purple, lilac, yellow, orange, green, or white coloured cauliflowers!
Ilex is the latin name for the genus of plants we often refer to as hollies. This is an interesting and diverse group of plants, that includes evergreen and deciduous plants, that form small shrubs, tall trees, and everything in between – depending on the Ilex species or cultivar grown.
Ilex are native plants of the United Kingdom, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Americas, China, North America, South East Asia, and other areas around the globe.