Cities in bloom

We believe that everyone should have free access to green spaces where they can surround themselves with nature, no matter where they live. This is why we work hard to make sure our urban canals bring the heart of the countryside to some of the country’s most built up areas.

Banbury, Oxford Canal Banbury, Oxford Canal

We’ve put together a selection of just some of the flowers you can spot in the centre of our towns and cities. Next time you’re taking a walk along the towpath take the time out to look in the cracks along the towpaths, walls and bridges around the water.

If you slow down and take in your surroundings we think you’ll get more benefit from your regular canal visit.

Ivy-leaved toadflax

Look out for the snapdragon-like purple and yellow flowers, commonly seen growing on bridges and walls. Thought to have been introduced into gardens prior to the 17th century it was popular as an ornamental plant between the 17th and 19th centuries when many walled gardens were created.

Ivy leaved toadflax courtesy of Bobby McKay on flickr Ivy leaved toadflax courtesy of Bobby McKay on flickr

Red dead-nettle

A member of the mint family, the plant has characteristic four-sided square stem and the crushed leaves a sharp, pungent smell. The plant does not sting, hence the name ‘dead nettle.’ The early production of flowers allows bees to gather its nectar for food when few other nectar sources are available.

Red dead-nettle courtesy of Harry Rose on flickr Red dead-nettle courtesy of Harry Rose on flickr

Ivy

Ivy is one of the few native evergreen plants in the UK. Nectar, pollen and berries of ivy are an essential food source for insects such as red admiral butterfly, and birds during autumn and winter when food is scarce. It also provides shelter for insects, birds and bats.

Ivy courtesy of stanze on flickr Ivy courtesy of stanze on flickr

Daisy

The daisy is actually two flowers in one. The white petals count as one flower and the cluster of tiny yellow disc petals that form the 'eye' is technically another. Daisies are particularly resistant to damage by insects and so grow well everywhere. They area a favourite nectar source of bees.

Daisy courtesy of chrigl on flickr Daisy courtesy of chrigl on flickr

Shepherd’s Purse

This plant is named after its triangular flat fruits which are purse like. It’s a flowering plant in the mustard family, the leaves can be added to salads for a peppery flavour. It also has medicinal properties, the herb’s ability to stop bleeding can be contributed to a plant protein that acts like the hormone oxytocin.

Shepherds purse courtesy of Miltos Gikas on flickr Shepherds purse courtesy of Miltos Gikas on flickr

Lesser Celandine

Common on our towpaths and one of the early flowering plants of the year, it’s an incredibly important for insects after winter, especially the queen bumblebees emerging from hibernation. Lesser Celandine has green heart shaped leaves and creates a carpet of yellow flowers.

Lesser celandine courtesy of Katja Schilz on flickr Lesser celandine courtesy of Katja Schilz on flickr

Last date edited: 11 July 2018