FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #6 – Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Flowers: White

Height: 12-35” (30 to 90 cm)

Width: 18-35″ (45-90 cm)

Light: Sun

Extremely distinctive, feathery leaves and their fragrance when crushed are the hallmark identifiers for Yarrow. While its white flowers are not very remarkable, the umbel is held above the plant with pride. Blooming from June until August, Yarrow is popular with many pollinators and many of them know it as a reliable source of nectar – Yarrow can be found all over North America, from coast to coast!

Yarrow prefers dry soils and those that are well-drained. A component of many alternative lawn cover mixes, Yarrow can tolerate mowing with ease is you want to keep it short and from flowering. Do deadhead to encourage Yarrow to bloom again.

With a long history of medicinal use, Yarrow is just as popular amongst herbalists as it is pollinators. Some people even use Yarrow to make medicinal liqueurs! Yarrow can also be a food crop with young leaves being cooked like spinach, or dried and used as flavouring in dishes. Yarrow was important in pasture mixes for providing ruminants, like cows, with minerals.

The only caveat is that Yarrow can be slightly weedy in that it self-seeds and readily establishes around the garden – but we don’t find it at all a problem in the Backyard Garden where it is easy to pull escapees. In fact, Yarrow is also a very important component of our Butterfly Meadow, since it can grow and self-seed to spread amongst the competing grasses.

Now you’ll recognise that plant anywhere when it is just emerging!

Yarrow does not form clumps naturally, rather spreads as lone plants. However, most plants are more attractive in a cluster of like species, so for the most attractive effect we suggest planting several plants together as a feature or in a massed border.

The Yarrow growing for this year’s sale is doing wonderfully and was one of the first plants to look impressive when we still had it protected inside. We didn’t have Yarrow last year, so come and get it this Saturday, 2 June!

Read about our other top ten:

#7 – Lanceleaf Coreopsis

#8 – Blue Flag Iris

#9 – Wild Columbine

#10 – Obedient Plant


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