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Apothecary Garden: Medicine for humans and wildlife

Grow your own apothecary garden: Spotlight on 3 powerful wildflowers, Heartsease Viola tricolour, Mullein Verbascum thapus and Vervain Verbena officinalis.

I find it absolutely fascinating learning about medicinal plants and as you may have guessed I have a particular fondness for our native plants.

There is so much medicine, potentially growing in our lawns, hedgerows and popping up resiliently through cracks.

I feel that often the plants we need the most are potentially growing very nearby.

I am so passionate about the medicine plants hold for both us humans and the wide variety of wildlife they attract.

Although I love gathering respectfully from the wild, there is something that stirs within me, the idea of growing your own apothecary garden.

So here are a few medicinal plants to spark curiosity with their benefits for both us and the interconnected wild world we are a part of.  

Please do thorough research before using plants for internal and external purposes and seek medical advice if on medication, pregnant or breastfeeding.

Heartsease Viola tricolor

Sweet faces of Heartsease are a must for the apothecary garden, not just a powerful medicinal plant for us humans, Heartsease attracts a range of pollinators, and it is a caterpillar food plant of the Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary Butterfly.


So pretty in salads, as cake decorations and lovely for making posh ice cubes.

Medicinally a powerful plant, being used as a heart tonic, blood cleanser and anti-inflammatory.


Taken as a tea to ease congestion in bronchitis and coughs.


Diuretic properties help with cystitis, rheumatism, and urinary disorders.


Topically a soothing balm can be made to treat skin conditions including acne and eczema.


Where to grow in my garden?


Attractive in a border, mini meadow or in pots.

Will self-seed well around the garden.


Flowers: April-Sept

Habitat: Grassland/ Free draining 

Height: 2-20cm

Growth Type: Annual (Self seeds well)

Position: Full sun to semi-shade

Soil Preference: Wide range

Great Mullein Verbascum thapsus

A tall impressive addition to the apothecary garden. Mullein is a biennial plant, spending its first year as a rosette of furry leaves and its second year growing tall flower spikes like giant candles covered in yellow flowers.


Mullein attracts bees, butterflies and hoverflies and is a favourite food of the mullein moth larva.

Carder bees use the 'fur' on the leaves to build their nests and the flowers attract bees and hoverflies.


Mullein tea is rich in soothing mucilage and drank for irritants of the throat and chest.

Use a coffee filter to remove the irritating hairs that come from the leaves.



Where to plant in my garden?


Very attractive in a cottage style garden or wildlife border.

Thrives in dry, stony or gravelly soil and a sunny position.


Flowers: June-Aug

Habitat: Grassland, wasteland, verges

Height: Up to 2m

Growth Type: Biennial

Position: Full sun

Soil Preference: Neutral to alkaline

Vervain Verbena officinalis

Our native* Verbena with small, pale lilac flowers on terminal spikes.

This delicate plant is not to be underestimated in the apothecary garden, as well as attracting a wide range of pollinating insects. This powerful herb was one of the Druid’s most sacred herbs and has a rich history in herbal and magical use.

Widley cultivated as a medicinal herb in medieval gardens
Vervain Verbena officinalis

The name Erbena was the classical Roman name for ‘altar-plants’ in general and for this species in particular.


Said to have grown on the site of Christ’s crucifixion and was used to staunch his wounds at the cross.


It was called herba sacra, a holy herb when used in religious ceremonies.


In the 16th century it became an official herb of the apothecaries, used for at least 30 complaints.


Widely cultivated as a medicinal herb in medieval gardens.


Today Vervain is used in herbal and traditional Chinese medicine and is often found in bedtime tea blends for its calming properties.


*Technically Vervain is ‘long naturalised’ being native to Southeast Europe and Asia and was likely introduced here in Neolithic times.

Unlike its popular garden relative Verbena bonariensis which is native to South America.

Where to grow in my garden?


A lovely addition to a wildlife garden.

Can be grown in a border, container, rock garden and will even grow out of walls.


Flowers: June-Oct

Habitat: Grassland, coastal cliffs, verges

Height: up to 80cm

Growth Type: Perennial

Position: Full sun 

Soil Preference: Neutral 

The wonder of our native plants

If you would like to experiment growing your own medicine and seeing the variety of life these special plants attract then our medicinal collection of native plants is for you.

To see more of the wonderful wildflowers we grow...

For friendly advice

Please get in touch for friendly advice

Thank you for reading

This blog is heart written, we would love it is you could help spread the word and share this post.


Steve Parkin
Steve Parkin
Jul 10

Thank you Lindsey for your beautiful blooming blog and sharing the magic of our meadows, such refreshing words to the general drone! x

Jul 11
Replying to

Thank you Steve for your very kind words it really makes all the difference 😀

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