In recent times, bee and butterfly populations have been in decline and the Royal Horticultural Society recognises that many of us want to do all we can to help to fight this. The RHS is therefore seeking to help those of us who want to encourage such pollinating insects into our gardens by educating us as to what we can plant in our gardens to do so.
The RHS ‘perfect for pollinators’ list sets out 400 species of garden plants and wild flowers that it recognises as being particularly important for attracting pollinating insects to gardens. Turfonline makes life easier still by including many of the wildflowers that feature on the RHS perfect for pollinators list in their rolls of specially grown wild flower matting.
One such wildflower, the ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), features on the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list as a herbaceous perennial that flowers during the summer months.
This pink wild flower, also known as the cuckoo flower, is one of Europe’s native species but numbers in the UK have declined as greater numbers of wetlands are drained for farming purposes. The plant grows from anywhere between 20 and 90cm in height, and has a long, thin stem with barbed, downward-pointing hairs. It has paired, untoothed leaves that vary from being oval and stalked lower down on the stem to long, narrow pointed leaves further up. Its flowers can be purple-pink, pale pink or white and are roughly 4cm in diameter, blooming throughout the summer months.
The ragged robin grows best in wet, boggy areas and is quite hardy. Bumblebees, honey bees and butterflies are all attracted to this flower, making it an ideal addition to your garden if you are conscious of helping native species of insects such as these to flourish.
Like many other wildflowers, ragged robins were once used in traditional, herbal medicines and remedies. Specifically, they were used in the belief that they would alleviate jaundice and more common illnesses such as headaches and toothaches. The roots and petals were also used, boiled, to wash clothes and hair. It was also once believed that if single men carried these flowers in their pockets and the flowers survived, they would soon find love.
Whether or not those things worked is unclear, but it is abundantly clear that planting these flowers as part of a meadow garden will attract pollinating insects, while also looking beautiful.