Native Plants and Trees
This page is a month-by-month guide to our native plants and trees, their edible and medicinal uses, and includes seasonal recipes for foods and drinks made from what you can gather in the garden or from the hedgerows. It is also a gardening guide to growing the native plants and trees, based on my own experience and experiments. This has led to my interest in native plant guerilla gardening, also included here. We can all play our part in re-wilding the countryside and our own gardens too by planting native plants and trees. We can then gather them for medicines and food and they will help restore the diverse eco-systems so needed by the bees and other wildlife.
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December
Today I have emptied my mini greenhouse to see how everything has been doing over the winter. Most things are looking very healthy and will be ready to plant out anytime now
Time to order seeds and begin sowing for the summer months. The following plants are all native wild flowers that will look good growing in any garden or could be grown for reintroducing back into the wild. Many of them have medicinal uses. Use a good herbal to find out more about them.
Some Native Annuals
- Cornflower or Bluebottle (Centaurea cyanus) - a lovely garden plant that flowers June to August.
Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) - grows in fields and likes an open position. Flowers June to July.
Field Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) - grows in disturbed ground. Flowers May to August.
Common Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis) - an all time favourite that will grow anywhere. Flowers April to September.
Wild Candytuft (Iberis amara) - grows on dry hillsides and grasslands. Flowers July to August.
Wild Pansy or Heartsease (Viola tricolor) (sometimes a perennial) - prefers sandy soils. Flowers April to September.
Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) - grows in grasslands and waysides. Flowers May to August.
Some Native Perennials
- Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) - found in hedgebanks and roadsides. Flowers June to August.
Betony (Stachys officinalis) - found in woods and hedgerows. Flowers June to September.
Bistort or Easter-ledges - (Polygonum bistoria) - grows along roadsides and in meadows. Previously eaten at Easter with hard boiled eggs. Flowers May to August.
Cowslip (Primula veris) - found in meadows and hedgebanks. Flowers April to May.
Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) - found in wasteplaces and hedgerows. Flowers June to September.
Marsh Mallow (Althaea officinalis) - found in salt marshes and ditches near the sea, but will grow outside of these conditions. Flowers July to September.
Columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris) - found in woods and damp places but now rare in the wild. Flowers May to June.
Field Scabious or Gypsy Rose (Knautia arvensis) - found growing in dry grasslands and roadsides. Flowers June to September.
Harebell or Scottish Bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia) - found growing in dry grassy places, hedgebanks and roadsides. Flowers July to September.
Jacobs Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) - flowers May to June.
Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides) - flowers June to September.
Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense) - found along roadsides and in hedgebanks. Flowers May to September.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) - found in wet meadows, marshes and along riversides. Flowers June to August.
Nettle-leaved Bellflower or Throatwort (Campanula trachelium) - Flowers June to September.
Ox Eye Daisy, Dog Daisy or Marguerite (Leucanthemum vulgare) - found growing in grasslands and along roadsides. Flowers May to August.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) - found in woods and on hedgebanks. Flowers March to May.
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) - found growing along damp watersides. Flowers June to August.
Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor) - found in grasslands and meadows. Flowers May to August.
Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) - found growing in grass, along roadsides and in woodland clearings. Flowers June to September.
Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) - found in damp meadows and roadsides. Flowers July to August.
Stonecrop. English (Sedum anglicum) - found on rocks, in walls, shingle, dunes and dry grassland. Flowers June to July.
St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - found in hedgerows, woodlands and along grassy banks. Flowers June to September.
Sweet Violet (Viola odorata) - found along wood edges and in hedgebanks. Flowers February to April.
Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) - found in woods and shady edges. Pretty banks of flowers from April to June.
Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) - found in wasteplaces, roadsides, hedgerows and grasslands and also grown in gardens. Flowers June to September.
Some Native Biennials
These take two years to come to maturity and don't flower in the first year. Once established though, there are plants flowering every year.
- Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) - found in woods, hedgerows and open places. Flowers June to September.
Mullein or Aaron's Rod (Verbascum thapsus) - Also known as Aaron's Rod - found on sunny banks and waste places. Flowers June to August.
Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare) - found on dry soils, grassy places, sea cliffs and dunes, waste places. Flowers June to September.
Weld (Reseda luteola) - found along roadsides, wasteland, fields and is an ancient bright yellow dye plant. Flowers June to August.
This year due to a month of icy weather and much snow up here in the peak district, the spring is coming in very late.
One sunny morning in early March, thirty seven frogs arrived in the pond overnight and began a mating frenzy, producing copious amounts of frog spawn.
Despite the intensely cold weather, the native plants are doing well. Over the last four or five years I have been encouraging them to grow in their own dedicated beds, treating them as a crop and learning how to manage them like any other crop. They are growing long before my conventional salad plants are ready to eat and they seem to be thriving in all this wet cold weather.
I am able to gather together a pile of fresh green native plants most days for my lunch. Corn Salad, Lady's smock, Chickweed, Chives, Garlic Mustard, Dandelions (take out the bitter central stem) and plenty of Wintercress.
Wintercress ~ Barbarea vulgaris
A native biennial or perennial, also known as yellow rocket and land cress. An edge plant found along rivers, canals, roadsides and waste places. Flowers May to September.
The young seedlings grow throughout the winter and are a very early salad plant. Grows well in containers. Prevent most of the plants from flowering to use the leaves. Let the rest self-seed for the following year or save the seeds and sow in July.
This picture was taken at the beginning of March. It shows the Wintercress pushing through the loose gravel of our parking area at the bottom of the garden. It has self seeded here of its own accord and is growing very healthily in very little soil. The more I pick the leaves the more it produces more! It is easy to weed out, which I will do later in the spring when I tidy up this area, but for now I let it grow and enjoy the crop it gives me.
This pile of delicious early spring native plants was quickly gathered in the first week of march, despite the snow and the half flooded garden. They can be simply eaten just as they are, as they are deliciously tender at this time of year. But my favourite way of eating them at the moment is to chop them all up finely,
and stir in plenty of chopped Garlic to keep my immune system boosted,
and finally stir in a half teaspoon of honey and a dash of balsamic vinegar..... absolutely delicious!
The Land is changing, responding to the increase in daylight and there is a sense of Spring in the air, even though it is still cold. When the Sun shines we feel compelled to get outside and get the Sun on our faces, start gardening, turn over the earth, plant some seeds.
Wild weather days bring surprises. Winds blow away the Winter debris, the rains refresh the land and native plants seem to appear over night. The trees are waking up, their buds swelling and turning pink or purple. Everywhere the birds are singing, nesting and claiming their territories.
The frogs arrive in the pond and call to each other day and night and begin to create copious amounts of frog spawn... now we really know that Spring has arrived!
Chickweed - Stellara media
A native annual. Grows everywhere in the UK and all over the world.
Also known as Star Weed, because of its little white star flowers and Winter Weed, because it grows in the Winter.
In the Garden: Despite its delicate appearance this is a tough plant that once you have it you will always have it, as it readily self seeds. I successfully imported this into my garden as remarkably I didnt have any. It transplants easily. If you have it, then encourage it, move it to where you want it to grow and think of it as a crop. It makes a good edible ground cover in the Winter and Spring that can be cropped several times.
Eventually it flowers in the late Spring and goes to seed and can then be cleared out.
In the Summer I transplant the new plants that appear and grow them along side other salad plants, tomatoes, cucumbers etc. As these gradually finish or die back in the Autumn, the Chickweed remains and grows all through the Winter to provide a very tasty addition to salads and spinach mixes.
Chickweed is a supreme healer. Its action is cooling and soothing.
- Make an infusion of the leaves and drink regularly or simply eat the fresh plant. Use for any hot inflammatory conditions. A tonic for the liver, kidneys and lungs, and for any digestive upsets.
- Use the same infusion to bathe burns and to cleanse and draw out poisons from any inflamed skin conditions.
- It is a great Spring tonic-herb, a herbal cleanser and restorer of the blood.
In the Kitchen:
Chickweed can be eaten throughout the Spring when it is at its best. High in vitamin A and C and high in minerals, including Iron, Copper, Magnesium and Calcium.
Add to salads, sandwiches, spinach-type mixes, soups, risottos, stir-fries, sprinkle over potatoes. Avoid using during Summer as the stalks become stringy.
Chickweed Pesto - Take a few handfuls of chickweed tops. Blend with chopped garlic, olive oil and some ground nuts of your choice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you like your salads hot, there are two native plants at their best at this time of year. Both can be grown in the garden to provide early leaves for salads. Both work well added to virtually any dish you can think of, but especially good with cheese, potatoes and eggs.
Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis
A native perennial. Known as Cuckoo flower or Bittercress. It likes growing in damp places. Flowers late Spring, early Summer and these too can be added to salads and used as a garnish. They are not as hot as the leaves!
Herbal Uses: A tonic for the stomach, aids digestion, restores lost appetite, vitamin C tonic and an expectorant for chesty coughs.
In the Kitchen: best eaten fresh. Tastes very much like watercress. Add the leaves and flowers to salads.
Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata
Known as Jack-by-the-Hedge, poor mans mustard, Hedge Garlic. A native biennial.
This is a happy edge plant that likes to grow along bottom of the hedges. Good to grow in the garden. If you let it flower it will seed its self and stick fairly well to its spot.
Use the leaves in early Spring (March and April). After that they become too tough. Add to salads, in sandwiches, sauces, to add to spinach type mixes, stews and soups. They are very hot!
Garlic Mustard Cheese
4oz of curd cheese, or any soft cheese
4 tablespoons of fresh chopped Garlic Mustard
2 tablespoons of chopped Chives
Beat the cheese and chopped herbs in a bowl and add salt and black pepper to taste.
Garlic Mustard Dip
The same recipe as above but add about a quarter of a pint of sour cream or natural yogurt.
Garlic Mustard Mayonaise
1 egg yolk
half a teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Garlic Mustard
4 fluid ounces/125ml of olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Whisk the egg yolk, mustard and Garlic Mustard.
Gradually add the oil and vinegar in small amounts. Add more vinegar, salt and peper to taste.
Other Native salad edibles for March
Corn Salad - Valerianella
Cleavers - Gallium aparine
Wood Sorrell - Oxalis acetosella
Salad Burnett - Sanguisorba minor
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December