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The charity making life better by water

Cities in bloom

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.

Flowers over the Oxford Canal at Banbury

We've put together a selection of just some of the flowers you can spot in the centre of our towns and cities. If you're unable to visit in person, please enjoy looking at these pictures from the comfort of your own home.

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

Red dead-nettle

A member of the mint family, the plant has a characteristic four-sided square stem and the crushed leaves have 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


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 the 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


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 are a favourite nectar source of bees.

Daisy courtesy of chrigl on flickr

Shepherd's Purse

This plant is named after its triangular flat fruits which resemble a purse. 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

Lesser Celandine

Common on our towpaths and one of the early flowering plants of the year, it's an incredibly important plant 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

Last Edited: 03 January 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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