This time of year, I find myself particularly drawn to exploring nature outside my garden, and take advantage of the ‘quiet’ time for gardening to go on plenty of walks. One of my favourites is round my local reservoir lakes, where there are thousands of birds, both visitors and residents alike, enjoying the plentiful bounty on offer and the safe haven these lakes provide. One of my favourite plants at this time of year as I walk round is the Teasel or Dipsacus fullonum if you know it by its Latin name. Teasels are probably most commonly known for their brown, prickly stems and conical seed heads which persist long after the plants themselves have died back for the winter. They stand tall amongst the grass, having provided a summer buffet of nectar for bees from the tiny purple flowers (which cluster together and appear in rings up and down the flower head), and an autumn harvest of niger seeds for birds, particularly the beautiful goldfinch. To me, they are such cheerful little things, greeting me with a little wave as I pass by; “hi, good to see you” they say! They also look simply stunning when blanketed with frost on those beautiful cold crisp January days, very Instagram worthy! I love them, and these dear little natives are my plant for January.
You can enjoy them at home too in your borders – seeds are readily available in garden centres etc. Try grouping several of them together for a better, more deliberate looking show in the perennial border. And of course the bees and birds will love you for it!