Include native wild flowers in this year’s plans for the garden, using them almost anywhere, not just in grassy banks. After all, many of us don’t have a lawn, far less space for an attractive, eco-friendly tangle of grass and wild flowers. But these close relatives of our more usual garden cultivars sit nicely in a sunny neuk, a damp corner, a container or even brighten up a a drystane dyke.

We can then enjoy the simple beauty of wild flowers, knowing that pollinating bees and butterflies will also appreciate their nectar.

Although pollinators collect nectar from any plant, native or exotic, natives do much more for a garden’s biodiversity. As a recent RHS study has confirmed, many smaller invertebrate species that we don’t even see rely on native plants for food and shelter.

Annual and perennial plant species are both useful. As I look dismally at the garden after such an icy winter, I’m sure some of my old favourites won’t return this spring, so annuals must come to the rescue.

When plugging these gaps, I often rely on my favourite Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus, and also like using Poppy, Papaver rhoeas, and Corn Marigold, Glebonis segetum.

And biennials, like self-seeding Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, can turn up almost anywhere, between my roses or at the back of a border. It’s easy enough to lift them or leave them to grow away.

Perennials survive all but the severest winters so are much easier to manage, but they can sometimes be hard to grow from seed, possibly needing a period of winter chilling before germinating. It’s often simplest to get plug plants from a nursery. Cumbria Wild flowers,, which also sells seed, offers a goodly selection.

Cumbria Wildflowers is a nursery well worth supporting as it only uses peat-free compost. If only the UK Government would have the guts to introduce and enforce a total ban on the use and importation of peat, immediately, to justify its climate-friendly claims in the run up to the international climate change conference in Glasgow this November.

Like other good nurseries, Cumbria Wildflowers also give helpful advice about plants suitable for different growing conditions: sunny, shady, dry, damp or boggy.

So Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, works well in a damp, but sunny spot, while Sweet Woodruff, Gallium odoratum copes well in the shade.

And perhaps with the prospect of more intense rainfall, thanks to climate change, we should be thinking of growing Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris, and Flag Iris, Iris pseudocorus. I just love seeing a massive clump of Flag Iris colonising all that lies before it in a soggy part of my field.

At the other extreme, I can’t imagine life without Biting Stonecrop, Sedum acre, a wonderful little succulent that scarcely needs any soil while carpeting the side of a dyke or softening the stone edging in the patio.

And the Yellow Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris, that I planted along the top of a sun-drenched garden dyke peeks cheekily between a couple of climbing roses.

Many native wildflowers can work well in a border. Choose species that have adapted to semi-shaded sites and more fertile soils. Most are much more compact than their cultivated relatives, so aim to have groups of 5 or 7 plants. And for best effect, repeat this planting along a bed.

A final and great alternative is to use pots and planters. They let you grow species unsuited to your garden soil.

So if you have acidic soil, grow Rockrose, Helianthemum nummularium in suitable compost. And if you’re cursed with heavy clay soil, a pot of gritty compost will suit Maiden Pink, Dianthus deltoides.

Plant of the week:

Iris winogradowii is a dwarf, early flowering iris that has primrose yellow petals subtly marked with green. Originating from the Caucasus it likes cool conditions and is said to thrive best in Scotland.