I don’t know how we originally came to have teasels – none of the immediate neighbours grow these giants, but the seeds must have blown in from somewhere (and we may not be popular as they blow out again each year!). They have become a bit of a fixture in our garden and a very welcome one for all sorts of wildlife.
They start off as fairly non-descript plants, forming low growing rosettes that look like they might turn into at most a thistle type of thing. They only flower in their second year, so I’m hoping the ones below, that I think overwintered, will flower this summer.
When they do put on their growth spurt, they are easily taller than me (I only manage a mere 5 foot 1 on a good day!) Their flowers are irresistible to the bees in the garden, which is the main reason we let them grow every year. These ones below are full grown ones from previous years
The stems and leaves provide homes for lots of other insects too, with water tending to collect at the base of each leaf.
We always leave them once they’ve finished flowering, as they still provide benefit right through the winter. For us humans they provide structure and interest in the garden.
The teasels themselves are packed with seeds that the birds love. Goldfinches are well-known teasel fans, but we’ve seen several other species such as this Coal Tit making the most of them too.
Of course we do eventually have to chop them down, if only to provide space for next year’s crop. This year we decided to save some of the hollow stems and turn them into something useful – a Bug Hotel. The RSPB are running a “Give Nature a Home” campaign, so a pile of teasel stems and an empty squash bottle later and we have hopefully made one small home. With a bit of luck we’ll be able to post photos later in the year of some new residents.
So that’s the life of the teasels in our garden – the plant that keeps on giving to wildlife – even when it’s chopped up into pieces!