A member of the Pink family, white campion (Silene latifolia) is a common sight in hedgerows and around the edge of fields. It is also known as the Flower of the Dead or the Grave Flower because of its tendency to grow in the grassy areas of graveyards.
Growing up to a metre in height, they produce clusters of white flowers that spread up to 3cm in diameter. Each flower has five petals that are shaped like love hearts (they are ‘bi-lobed’) and these emerge from a swollen bladder-like calyx. The stem splits into two close to the flowers, and at the split there are two stalkless, oval, hairy leaves.
This white wild flower is a native species in Europe and Asia, though it prefers more shaded woodland areas in hotter parts of the world. It is a long-flowering breed, budding by May and flowering until October. Its petals also stay open until late evening, when they become slightly scented, making it attractive to moths, an important pollinator.
As more and more people turn over parts of their gardens or allotments to allow pollinating flowers and plants to grow, to encourage native species of bee and butterfly and other pollinators, this wildflower is becoming a more familiar sight in many more areas across the UK. Available as one of several varieties of wildflower in a Meadowmat it can be quickly and easily grown and incorporated into any outdoor space in the same way as turf can.
Wildflowers are very easy to grow and maintain and bring beauty in the form of their vibrant colours, and in the array of wildlife they attract. As well as moths, the white campion attracts hoverflies and beetles, and add a splash of colour to any wildflower meadow.
The white campion has also had many uses in the past, including for washing clothes and hair, and even to treat warts and corns. During the reign of Elizabeth I this species was made into a soothing drink, combining it with sugar and wine. In more modern times, the roots are known to be toxic to the larvae of mosquitoes and are used as a deterrent in areas where mosquitoes are problematic. Some people still boil up the roots to make soap.
If you are interested in incorporating some of these pretty wildflowers in your garden, a Meadowmat is the easiest and surest way to do so.