Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)



A hardy perennial wildflower with small dark violet/blue pincushion flowers which appear in late summer, between July and September. Each plant can send up a number of long slender flower stems up to 70cm tall. Devil’s-bit Scabious leaves are a quite distinctive dark green and have a leathery appearance.

The leaves are also evergreen, even during the winter months and when not in flower they not to difficult to identify.

In the garden Devil’s-bit Scabious, can be planted along side other perennial wild flowers such as, Common Fleabane or Meadow Sweet which flower and grow well in similar shady damp habitats.


A native wild flower in Britain, Devil’s-bit Scabious prefers damp soils, in the wild it may be found growing in Damp Meadows, Woodland Rides and Marshes

Devil’s-bit scabious is a food plant for the caterpillars of a one of Britian’s rarest and prettiest butterflies, the Marsh Fritillary

Devil's Bit Scabious leaves dark green leaves even in winter

Devil’s Bit Scabious, dark evergreen leaves in winter

Devil’s-bit-Scabious, small blue pincushion flowers

Devil’s-bit-Scabious, single blue pincushion flowers

In my Garden there are now around 100 or more established plants, grown mostly from collected seed, moved on into 9cm pots and planted in semi-shade. Getting most of the summer sun from late afternoon avoiding the heat of the day.

Plant Information

  • Name: Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)
  • Group: Caprifoliaceae Honeysuckle family
  • Type: Hardy Perennial
  • Position: Sun or Semi-shade
  • Soil Type: Well drained, Moist soil (not water logged)
  • Similar appearance to:
  • Flowering: July to September
  • Position: Sun with semi-shade,
  • Height: around 70cm
  • Larval food plant: Marsh Fritillary Butterfly (Euphydryas aurinia)
  • Nectar plant: Common Blue, Bees, Hoverflies
  • Photograph:Top 26th May 2015, Bottom: 21st Feb 2019
  • Location: Growing in my Garden
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)



Bluebells are probably one the most well known wildflowers found in the British Isles, sometimes carpeting whole woodland floors in early spring with brightly coloured flowers, which appear April-May.

Bluebells are an important nectar source in early Spring for native British butterflies such as the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) , Orange-tip (anthocharis cardamines)and Pearl-Border Fritillary as well as other insects such as bees.

The native British Bluebell has become rare in some parts of the country due to cross pollination with the less colourful Spanish Bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) creating hybrids, and the loss of ancient woodland habitat.

Brimstone nectaring on Bluebells in April

Brimstone Nectaring on Bluebells in April

Native Bluebells or Non-Native?

It is important that when buying and planting bluebells in the garden or elsewhere, that native species like “Hyacinthoides non-scripta” should be used, rather than the Spanish variety.

One of the easiest ways to tell Native bluebells apart, from the non-natives and Hybrids species is to look inside the flowers at the pollen on the anthers, to ensure this test is truly accurate, it is best to catch them just as they begin to bloom.

Native English bluebells should have light creamy coloured Pollen on the anthers, any differences in colour such as light blue or a pale Green it is non native, also differences in colour, scent and shape of the flower are good indicators.

How to Grow

Bluebells are best planted and will thrive, in moist well drained soils, rich in organic matter in the dappled shade of deciduous trees or hedgerows.

Prior to planting add plenty of garden compost or well rotted manure to improve the soil, this will also help to ensure that the bulbs remain moist throughout the year.

Native English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) spring woodland flower

Native English Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

When planting, you can randomly scatter the bulbs across the planting area for a more natural look, then plant at a depth of about 10cm in the soil. For a more uniform look place 10cm apart.

During the warm summer months, the bulbs should be kept moist until they are fully established, it is also very important to let the foliage die back naturally.

When Did Bluebells become Protected?

In the UK the native Bluebell was first protected under the wildlife and country act 1981 making it an offence, to remove or sell the bulbs and seeds, taken from the wild, this was later enforced again in 1998.

Buying English Bluebells

Buying English Bluebells from a Reputable Nursery, ensures they are cultivated from renewable stocks, it is also best to buy them “in the green”. Buying bulbs in “in the green” offers a much higher success rate of the bulbs flowering in the Spring, than buying dry bulbs.

For more information and availability Click Here to visit Thompson & Morgan

Blubells carpeting floor in deciduous woodland

Bluebells carpeting floor in deciduous woodland

Photographed: 10th April 2010,April 22nd 2011 April 2014 in South Lincolnshire

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Red Campion (Silene dioica)


(Silene dioica)

Red Campion is a semi-evergreen perennial wildflower. It’s early pink /red 5 petalled blooms may be seen from late March in the garden normally April onwards. It is most commonly found growing locally on well drained calcareous soils and maybe be seen along hedgerows, field margins, and woodland rides.

Despite only being found locally in the wild it is quite a common species to be added into Wildflower seed mixes. Planted in a wildflower garden alongside a fence or hedge in semi-shade, it is a perfect plant for pollinators such as Bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and moths

Plant Information

  • Name: Red Campion (Silene dioica)
  • Group/Family: Silene – Caryophyllaceae – Catchfly
  • Type: Short lived Perennial
  • Flower Colour: Red
  • Flowering: April-November
  • Soil type: Calcareous, Well drained, Mildly fertile
  • Habitat: Hedgerows, Woodland rides, and cliffs
  • Position: Sun/Shade
  • Height:
  • Similar appearance to: various Campion and Catchfly species
  • Larval food plant:
  • Nectar plant: Bees, Orange-tip
  • Photograph:
  • Location: Growing in my Garden

Red Campion (Silene dioica) -Flowering end of March – Garden

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022
 Posted by on February 16, 2018  Comments Off on Red Campion (Silene dioica)  Tagged with:

Black Medick (Medicago lupulina) Wildflower


A generally common wildflower, with many small yellow oval-round flowers, and trifoliate leaves, (3 leaflets) mostly found on fertile or calcareous soils, in sunny areas on short grazed or cut grassland like garden lawns and verges.

Flowering May-October, each Black Medic plant may have around 40-50 yellow flowers that emerge from the leaf axils of the short stems, which despite their small size, attract many pollinating insects, such as bees, moths and butterflies.

Despite the abundance of small yellow flowers Black Medic gets its name from the small black kidney shaped seeds which can be found late August – September.

Black Medic Wildflower seeds and yellow flowers September

A mixture of the Black Medick seeds and the small yellow flowers seen together around September.

Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) Wildflower with small yellow flowers

Black Medic (Medicago lupulina) small yellow flowers

Black Medic Information

  • Group: fabaceae (Pea Family)
  • Type: Annual – perennial
  • Similar appearance to: Clovers – Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre)
  • Flowering: May-October
  • Habitat: Meadows, Tracks, Roadside Verges, Garden Lawns
  • Height: around 35-50cm
  • Larval food plant: Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
  • Nectar plant: Common Blue butterfly, Brown Argus butterfly, Gatekeeper butterfly, Meadow Brown butterfly, Wood White Butterfly (leptidea sinapis), Moths and Bees
  • Photograph: 5th September 2012- South Lincs
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Scabious – Flowers that Attract Butterflies and Bees



Well known as a native wildflower, Scabious with its range of cultivated varieties and colours also makes it a traditional garden favourite. Its constant flowering throughout the summer months, makes it the perfect plant for when little else is flowering, such as in late July.

Scabious is a great choice for any wildlife garden, or meadow, its steady supply of nectar rich flowers will attract pollinating insects, like Butterflies and Bees.

Native Varieties

Wild native varieties like the common “Field Scabious” (Knutia arvensis) or the less common “Small Scabious” (Scabosa columbaria) can be found throughout England and Wales, flowering June-September they may be found on dry calcareous (lime or Chalk) grassland. Similar looking the two sometimes confused. Devil’s-Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) has smaller rounded flowers around 15-25mm across and is found in much damper conditions, than the Field or Small Scabious.

Field Scabious flower head

Field Scabious flower head

Scabious Information

  • Also Known As: Pincushion flower
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade
  • Sow seeds: February, March, April, May, June
  • Flowering: May – September or until the first frost
  • Height: Around 50-60cm
  • Soil: Well drained Lime-Chalk /Alkaline.

Well known varieties

Two of the most well known varieties are possibly Scabious ‘Blue Jeans’ and Scabious ‘Butterfly Blue’, their abundance of flowers throughout the summer makes these real garden favourites.

These and many more colours and varieties of Scabious are available Visit “Thompson & Morgan” here, to take a look

Scabious “Butterfly Blue Beauty”

General Plant care

New Scabious plants when large enough can be put out from April in a frost free position, always allow about a week for them to acclimatise and the risk of frost has passed before planting out 30-40 cm apart, varieties with large blooms may need light support if the weather is particularly wet or windy. Remove dead flowers (dead heading) during the growing season every week or so, new blooms will soon take their place.

In Autumn or when the Scabious plants have turned brown and died back they can be cut down to ground level, this can also be done in the spring, when plants can be propagated by division.


To keep a stock of healthy plants, Scabious requires some propagation this is best done March-April by root division, this requires lifting and dividing young plants into one or two divisions and replanting, or replacing the older less vagarious growing plants.

Field Scabious in Meadow

Field Scabious in Meadow

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum).


A tall and robust willdflower, Hemp Agrimony is a herbaceous perennial plant, with long narrow leaves and large clusters of small light pink or purple flowers, that appear (early Autumn) July to September.

In the Wild

Widespread across England and Wales, Hemp Agrimony is most commonly found growing in the wild in wet or damp areas of open woodland, on river banks and in ditches, it often attracts Butterflies, Moths, Bees, Hoverflies and many other insects .

In the Garden

Hemp Agrimony can make a great architectural border plant, and is a perfect addition to a wildlife garden. It will grow in most soil types, preferring moist well drained soil and will tolerate a mixture of sunshine and shade.

Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) Light pink or purple blooms

Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) clusters of small Light pink or purple flowers

A patch Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) flowering in local woodland

Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) flowering in August in open woodland


To get Hemp Agrimony in the garden this year, 1 litre pots sizes available, for more information Visit Thompson & Morgan here

Hemp Agrimony Information

  • Name: Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)
  • Group: Asteraceae
  • Type: Perennial
  • Height: around 1.5m spread 1.0m
  • Flowering: July to September
  • Position : sun to semi-shade.
  • Butterflies regularly seen visiting this plant : Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Peacock, Large Skipper, Green- veined White, Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia).
  • Propagation: Seeds or Root division, mulch in spring
  • Cultivated Varieties : Eupatorium maculatum ‘Atropurpureum’.
  • Photographed: 25th August 2011
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Common Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatas)


A native wildflower, Common Birds-foot Trefoil with small distinctive yellow to orange petalled flowers, is low growing and often be found amongst the grasses on woodland rides, roadside verges and in grazed meadows.

Flowering from May to September, the bright yellow flowers attract butterflies, moths and other insects, after flowering seed pods develop appear in the shape of a birds foot.

Common Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatas) close up of the flowers

Common Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatas) close up of the Small delicate flowers

Common Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatas) Native British Wild Flower

Common Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatas) growing amongst grasses

Plant Information

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Cuckoo Flower, Wildflowers for Butterflies and Bees



Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) is a herbaceous early Spring perennial, with delicate lilac or violet tinted flowers with obvious dark violet veins, and yellow anthers on a sturdy stem, varying in size to around 40cm long, seen from April to June. The leaves are a basal rosette, with 8 pairs of oval leaflets

Widespread but localised, throughout many areas of the UK, Cuckoo Flower where found, often grows in abundance, preferring, wet or damp grassy meadows, and similar locations ranging from lowlands to mountains.

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) Spring Wild Flower

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)

Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)

Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock as it is also known, like other early wildflowers provides a nectar source for Butterflies, Bees and other insects in early spring, making it a great addition to a wild flower or wildlife garden. It is also an essential larval food plant for the strikingly coloured Orange-tip Butterfly.

Quick Info

  • Name: Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)
  • Type: Native Herbaceous perennial
  • Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage family)
  • Also Known As: Lady’s Smock
  • Where: Found locally through-out Britain
  • Habitat: Found on –Damp grassy meadows.
  • When does it flower? April to June.
  • Height around: 40cm.
  • Larval Food Plant: Orange-tip Butterfly (anthocharis cardamines) and Green-veined white (Pieris napi)
  • Photographed: 5th May 2012
© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022

Barnack Hills and Holes, Butterflies and Rare Wildflowers


Where is Barnack?

Situated on the B1443 in the village of Barnack 4 miles south of Stamford Lincolnshire, Barnack Hills and Holes is a unique landscape managed as a nature reserve and a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

What Created the Hills and Holes?

It was created from the quarrying of limestone. The limestone taken from the site is known as Barnack rag and was formed from tiny sea creatures in the Jurassic period 150 million years ago.

Common Blue Butterfly - on Knapweed

Common Blue Butterfly – on Knapweed seed pod

Why is Barnack so unique?

Barnack’s unique Calcareous grassland supports over 300 varieties of wildflower which include 8 species of Wild Orchid.

The wild Pasque flower and the unusual Knapweed Broomrape, are just two of the more rare species to be found, as well as many slightly more common plants like cowslips, Violets, and a wide range of lime loving plants like Rock-rose, Wild Thyme and Ox-eye Daisy.

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) rare British wildflower

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) seen on the limestone grassland from April into May

When was the area Protected?

In 2002 the Hills and Holes became a Special Area for Conservation (SAC), to protect the wildlife, wild flowers and orchid rich grass land. The site is managed by Natural England who carefully maintain and improve the habitat in the reserve.

For more information visit

View of Barnack Hills and Holes wildflowers

View of Barnack Hills and Holes wildflowers

The hills that we see today are the heaps of rubble left behind when all the useful limestone had been removed and the site abandoned in the 1500s, over time these heaps have become covered in the grasses and wild flowers that we see today.

Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula) at Barnack Hills and Holes

Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula)

The rich flora supports a wide variety of insects, a number of which are nationally scarce, including several species of rare butterflies, the Chalkhill Blue, Marbled White, Brown Argus and Green Hairstreak, as well a some of the more well known ones such as the Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Common Blue Butterfly.

Knapweed Broomrape (Orobanche elatior) flowering

Knapweed Broomrape (Orobanche elatior)

© Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2022
Mar 142013

Wildflower Collection

Starting a Wildflower Garden or Meadow to attract beneficial insects like butterflies and bees it couldn’t be easier, with this diverse collection of wildflower plug plants.

Also adding a sprinkling of some wildflower seed between these plug plants – they will all knit nicely together.

The perennial varieties will come back year after year whilst the annuals will happily self seed and reappear in a new position each year. Height: 150cm (59″). Spread: 50cm (20″).

Flowering Period: May, June, July, August, September Position: Full sun, sun or semi shade.

Plugs available separately *

Follow this link to Thompson & Morgan for more Details

Collection comprises of:

  • Foxglove (Digitalis)*
  • Self-Heal (Prunella)*
  • Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium)*
  • Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum)*
  • Cornflower (Centaurea)
  • Ragged Robin (Lychnis)*
  • Field Scabious (Knautia)*
  • Common Knapweed (Centaurea)*
  • Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus)*
  • Teasel (Dipsacus)*
Wildflower Collection - Hardy Perennials

Wildflower Collection – Hardy Perennials – Thompson & Morgan

  © Urban Butterfly Garden 2010-2013