ACHILLEA milliefolium or COMMON YARROW

My plant of the month for August is a rather unusual choice because I’ve picked a plant which many people regard as a bit of a weed but on closer examination it proves to be a very interesting and useful plant in many ways and will make a welcome addition to any garden. Named after the Greek hero Achilles who used the plant for its medicinal properties, not least its ability to stop bleeding quickly, Achillea millefolium or Common Yarrow is a hardy perennial herb, native to Europe and Asia but now naturalised in many other parts of the world. Known for its wide, flat flowerheads which consist of a multitude of tiny daisy-like flowers which sometimes bloom late, even into October.  Yarrow is now available in many  colours ranging from creamy white, various shades of yellow, through to soft and vivid pink, plenty of choice for any mixed border. Sometimes known as Bloodwort, Achillea is an excellent companion plant and will improve the health of many other plants growing near it by increasing their essential oil content and making them more resistant to insect attack. Easily cultivated, Achillea prefers a well drained site in full sun and will survive even in poor soils. It also has a reputation for improving soil fertility and is an excellent compost activator which helps speed up the composting process. Growing to around 60-75cm Yarrow makes a useful cut flower and can also be used in dry bouquets. The plants anti-inflamatory and antiseptic properties are widely used in herbal remedies and the leaves can also be used as a cosmetic cleanser which is good for greasy skin. Achillea millefolium is sometimes used to make a tea like brew and in small quantities can be added to salads. The fragrant leaves and flowers are known to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to add colour to your garden.