These seed balls in a recycled box make a fantastic gift (or stocking filler!). The box measures 5.7 x 3.6 x 1.5 cm and contains 6 seed balls. Seed balls are clay balls mixed with lots of wildflower seeds – Wild Forget-me-not, Red Campion, Yarrow, Purple Loosestrife, Musk Mallow and Cornflower. The clay is also mixed with chilli powder (to deter slugs and snails from eating the seedlings), peat-free compost (for a bit of nutrition), and clay (to protect the seeds from predators).
About the Seeds
Forget-me-not (myosotis arvensis)
Forget-me-nots are best sown in the Autumn so that they flower the following spring. They produce masses of tiny, delicate blue flowers with yellow centres. The plant’s Latin name – myosotis – derives from the Latin for mouse ear, which the leaves tend to resemble.
Forget-me-nots have been around since the late 1300’s when Henry IV took the plant as his emblem. It was known as Scorpion Grass, according to the herbalist Gerard (1633), because its flowerhead was thought to resemble a scorpion’s tail. Therefore it was also believed to cure the sting of a scorpion, and snake and dog bites.
In German folklore, a knight picked Forget-me-not for his love as they walked by a river. He tripped and fell in but before he drowned he threw his love the flowers and cried “Forget me not!”
In days of old, blacksmiths kept a bunch of Forget-me-nots in their forge to protect horses from injury. In the language of flowers, Forget-me-nots are symbolic of true love.
Forget-me-nots are good nectar sources for early emerging bumblebees in spring.
Red Campion (silene dioica)
This pretty wildflower is found in semi shady areas in the wild, such as hedgerows and woodland margins. It produces a proliferation of dark pink flowers during late spring and sometimes longer – great value for money! As it is a prolific self-seeder, when the flowers have gone over it would be wise to cut off the seedheads unless, of course, you want loads more in your garden every year!
Latin name – silene dioica
Height – 90 cm
Habitat – semi-shade or sun
Flowering time – May to September
Particular bees that love Red Campion – short-tongued bumblebees such as the garden bumblebee (bombus hortorum), due to the flower tube being quite small. Short-tongued bumblebees poke holes in the bottom of the flower tube to gain access to the nectar that is otherwise denied them! Savvy honeybees can also come along and try getting the nectar from the same hole! Long-horned bees (Eucera longicornis) have also bee seen visiting Red Campion, although this bee is a long-tongued solitary bee.
Female flowers have no pollen, male flowers do, so the bees can only collect pollen from the male flowers.
Yarrow (achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is a pretty wildflower with panicles of white flowers and serrated leaves.
Height around 60 cm or so
Habitat – sun or partial shade
The larvae of many moths feed on Yarrow, for example – Essex Emerald, Lime Speck Pug and Straw Belle, Ruby Tiger, Yarrow Pug, V Pug, Grey Pug, Tawny Speckled Pug, Common Pug, Mullein Wave, Wormwood Pug, Sussex Emerald and several Tortricord moths.Narrow Pug, Narrow-winged pug, Common Pug, Bordered Pug.
Purple Loosestrife (lythrum salicaria)
Purple Loosestrife is a hardy perennial with spires of dark pink flowers adored by bees and butterflies. The caterpillars of the Emperor and Small Elephant Hawk Moths feed on the leaves. It is also the food plant of the Powdered Quake moth. A mature plant can have as many as 30 flowering stems producing 2 – 3 million seeds per annum.
Purple Loosestrife is found in the wild in boggy areas and by water – although it also grows well in gardens!
Flowers June to September.
Musk Mallow (malva moschata)
Musk Mallow has pretty pale pink flowers and is often found in hedgerows, roadside verges and rough grassland.
Latin name – malva moschata
Height – 80 – 120 cm
Habitat – sunny or partial shade
Flowering time – June to September
Habitat -sunny, semi-shade
Particular bees that like Musk Mallow – many bumblebee species like this wildflower, particularly the Red-tailed bumblebee (bombus lapidarius) and the common carder bee (bombus pascorum).
Cornflower (centaurea cyanus)
This pretty wildflower was once common in the wild cornfields but is now very rare in the wild, having been eradicated by farmers. The flowers are blue and “fluffy” and much loved by bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees.. All members of the centaurea family are rich in nectar.
Latin name – centaurea cyanus
Height – 60 cm
Habitat – sun
Annual flower, so completes its lifecycle in one year. Leave the seedheads on to scatter around the garden or collect them yourself when flowering is over and sow them next year.
Flowering time – June to August
Insects that like cornflowers – bees, ladybirds, hoverflies, lacewings, Six-Spot Burnet moths, among others