Flowers in the veg garden

I confess the last two seasons I have spent zero time with the perennial beds around here. It is quite shameful, really, but my pursuit of subsistence farming has been…all-encompassing, let’s just say. I do, however, have some ornamentals growing in the veg garden for their ability to attract polinators. Some of them are even edible. Most self-seed readily: a great thing for someone who tells herself she’s got no time for flowers 😉

Angelica: One evening I counted 16 different insects visiting its flower umbrels. Blue bottle flies, mason bees, honeybees, bumblebees, little gnatty things: all this for something that (to me) smells like gin and tonics. It is huge. This picture doesn’t do it justice: they can get to be 8′ in height and diameter so make sure you have the space for it. Here, it’s growing with potatoes and asparagus. It’s a perennial, and mine’s about 7′ in height.

Calendula: A new thing to me last year, it does self-seed readily. It hates being transplanted but you can if it’s really small. Its flowers are edible and flowers way beyond frost too.

Coreopsis: The orange/yellow kind are rather tall and weedy, but they continue to show up in the garden and I do let them come.

Borage: Plant it once and it will always come back! Luckily its seedlings are easily recognized and can be uprooted easily. It’s prickly, though. I put the flowers in salad. My very first blog post was about borage.

Nasturtiums: Another orange/yellow sprawler, its flowers are likewise edible.

Marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons, stock: I do seed these in a row in early spring and then spread them around the gardens and yards. They stick around, often into late fall, and the old-flower lover in me just adores them.

Man, even writing about flowers makes me tired. I had better stop now.

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11 responses to “Flowers in the veg garden

  1. Is the calendula the picture of the pretty, upright, orange flowers? I like those!

  2. None of my flowers are edible ( to me anyway), but I consider them essential to my garden; I like to grab a bouquet for the table when I’m gathering my vegetables. The garden at my shop has only flowers and herbs for now. I considered putting a tomato plant next to the sidewalk, but I kept picturing dogs watering it (yuk), so I skipped that plan.

  3. Angelica! It rocks!
    I bought a tiny little angelica plant at MSU’s plant sale a couple years ago. The label succinctly said, “tall.” No kidding! That thing got huge!

  4. Hey Danni: The calendula is indeed the orange one. They come in yellow too, and their centers are kind of dark. They self-seed everywhere, but the seedlings are pretty distinctive. Try them!

    Pamela, I tend to put edibles in my ornamental beds too (but don’t have male dogs around). Yesterday on our way to get the mail my daughter and I found some romaine lettuce in the front gardens that had self-seeded from last season. Woot! Exciting. I agree about having lots of bouquets around too. Or rather I used to. I now have a cat that thinks bouquets are for her, and I am too tired of picking up spilled water and cat puke so no indoor bouquets any more. But: we do eat outside half the year, and she’s an indoor critter! I miss masses of flowers inside, though 😦

    Anne, a friend of mine used to teach at MSU, so we went up to see her. I was so impressed with the ag center! How lucky you can go to the plant sales. Have you hit their organic farm market too? Yes indeed they should make sure they say “very tall” on the tag. Crazy. I think I have 4 plants, maybe 5, scattered around. They’re certainly architecturally interesting.

  5. Do you have any cilantro or parsley in your garden? If you don’t, you should (even if you don’t use the stuff in your cooking) and let some of it go to flower. They have flowers similar to angelica so all those little pollinators just LOVE them and swarm the flowers. Plus, cilantro smells all green and lovely every time you brush up against it.

  6. The borage is gorage-us! I gotta get some.

  7. Hi Natalie: I have some parsley I am letting go to seed in the greenhouse. You are right: they do attract a ton of bug friends, too! Cilantro was something that would reseed itself in my city garden. For some reason it’s not so fruitful in sunny warm Michigan (comparatively speaking, of course: the city garden was in Minneapolis). But it’s another thing I do love…too bad I am alone in it, though.

    CC: I will send you some seed! The plant is tall and prickly but hey so are a lot of my friends. The leaves can be eaten, though I haven’t tried. Like cucumbers, only wetter.

  8. You really have a pleasant garden. Thanks for your tips

  9. I miss my angelica but I didn’t anticipate it’s size and finally had to chose between it and the lovage which I make more use of. I’ll find another spot to put some; I think it can take some shade, no?

    Years ago I was taken with the notion of a potager which I understood to be a rather formal garden of veggies and flowers but I’ve come to believe it’s just a good way to garden, that the diversity has benefits besides the aethetics.

  10. I love Borage. I use a poultice of crushed Borage leaves to relieve insect bites and stings, reduce swelling and bruising. I bruise very easily, so I have plenty of Borage growing in the garden.

  11. WF: Thanks. Can’t quite tell if you are spam or not but I will let your comment slide.

    Marcy: yep, it can take some shade. The potager is the plan of the garden, especially when it was first planted…things have kind of gotten a bit off course with my huge plantings of one veg per bed for the purpose of preservation but at least the center beds still hew that line. The one thing about angelica is it has a huge tap root so watch it if you transfer it. But lovage? Don’t love it. Its only saving grace is it casts shade on the lettuce bed so I let it stick around.

    Bobbi, thanks! I love the way the stuff smells. I suppose I knew there was some other utility to it; must research that more.

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