Growing a mixture of vegetables/fruits/herbs and flowers is not only visually appealing, it is necessary to keep the pollinators happy and keep the cycle spinning of inviting the welcome predators to eat the unwelcome predators. Companion planting which was once a way of life only to be overtaken by pesticides has thankfully returned and the municipal planting of the 70’s and 80’s received a well overdue kick up the backside in London when a vast wild flower meadow was planted on the Olympic site in 2012.
This year I have dedicated two small patches to growing a variety of wildflowers. The decline in wild flowers over the last fifty years in Britain is heartbreaking. Fortunately there are organisations such as Plantlife (www.plantlife.org.uk) working hard in bringing back endangered species as well as re-educating the public, and visiting schools.
I am going to try and blog once a month on a herb or wildflower. It’s a good way to understand the history and peculiarities and maybe a few other bloggers will be interested. I start with a peculiar wildflower/herb. Peculiar because it’s common name is Bladder Campion. Plant names attract me, both the common and Latin name. They can conjure up such visual imagery that even if the plant is not suited to the soil on my plot I want to buy it! I will leave it to your imagination to what visual delights Bladder Campion conjures up.
The seeds sow easily. This is how the plant looks at present on the plot.
The bladder part of the name refers to the bladder-like calyx behind the flowers. It’s a common wildflower in England and I don’t think it is on the endangered species list. It grows up to 80cm and flowers during the summer. I decided to sow the seeds in one of the herb patches as the flowers and leaves compliment the flowering herbs. It attracts bees, butterflies and, during the night when the plant emits a clove like scent, the long tongued moths.
In the Mediterranean the young leaves are used in salads (I am waiting for the leaves to grow a little more before I eat but will update you on the taste). As the leaves get older you can saute with garlic, add to an omelette or a stew. In South Africa the Xhosa use the grounded roots (mixed to a froth with water) to influence their dreams.
Pretty impressive – we can eat the leaves, if we wish use the roots for divination (not sure of the side effects) and attract pollinators to our gardens/plots both day and night – well worth growing!