Don't forget the flowers

Remember to include some flowers in your seed orders this year. Flowers bring colourful joy and life to an otherwise plain edible garden plan. There are many ways to include both annual and perennial flowers in all kinds of gardens. Plant flowers to attract specific beneficial insects to enhance pollination, as companions to enhance yield and taste, for edible pretty additions to salads, and for fresh cut flowers to enhance your living space.

Companion planting means pairing two or more known varieties of herbs, flowers and vegetables which when planted together benefit each other by increasing yields, health and taste. I have found that the cucumbers I have inter-planted with sunflowers are sweeter and produce for a longer period than those planted without sunflowers. In a smaller garden the variety Pacino Cola is a delightful dwarf addition.

Edible flowers are a popular trend right now. Some easy varieties to consider are Nasturtium, Viola, Calendula and Borage. All of these are easy to add fresh to salads. Try freezing violas or borage flowers in ice cubes for fancy summer drinks. Violas, Pansies, Dianthus and Rose petals are increasingly used in desserts.

I also include flowers for fresh cutting. There are many varieties that are bred especially for long vase life and it is well worth the effort to grow these from seed. Some of my favourite annuals are the Benary Giant Zinnias, Larkspur QIS series, Princess Asters, Salpiglossis and Sunflower Valentine. While perennial flowers such as, Pacific Giants Delphiniums, Siberian irises, Peonies and most forms of Dianthus and Rudbeckia make wonderful easy to grow cut flowers.

Copy and photos 2007-2018 by Rachel Lloyd