Gardening surprises, ornamentals among my edibles.

Before I planted my first vegetable garden in 2009, my experience with plants was a few potted philodendrons in my apartment, an unknown variety of house plant that came with me through 3 moves in college, and a really gorgeous hydrangea the previous owners had planted at our condo when we were first married. I never grew flowers in the yard before, so except for the really popular landscaping plants I’d see in the neighborhood or at my family’s homes when we would go visit, I have never really been surrounded by a wide variety of different species.

As much as I’ve learned about annual vegetables, fruit trees and berry bushes – I’m just beginning to dip my toes into garden flowers. My neighbors don’t have extravagant plantings and though some of them have pretty day lilies, cone flower and hostas that provide curb appeal – the selection is pretty standard.

Our house has a large front yard and my husband and mother weren’t thrilled with the idea of the front being filled exclusively with food gardens, no matter how emphatically I insisted that chives, comfrey, strawberries and eggplant (among others) were just as beautiful as traditional, ornamental border plants. So, I compromised and started some flowers from seed to plant among my edibles.

I stand corrected and am pleasantly surprised by the flowers that are blooming! Growing flowers has brought a new level of anticipation back to gardening for me! I’ve tried planting most edibles that do well in our planting zone. I’ve looked forward to harvest, to tasting things I’ve never tasted before, to saving seeds and watching the life cycle of the food that I raise. I still love it! With these new flowers, that sense of discovery is renewed! Will it flower this year, or next year? Do they self seed or are they perennial? Can I save the seeds from this? Will they need to be stratified before I plant them again? (ugh, I never get that right) How big will it get before it flowers? How can I encourage more blooms? How many different colors are going to come from one seed packet?! Why can’t I get lupine to grow more than 3 leaves for love or money?

I’m learning so much with these new plantings and my neighbors and family have commented on the beautiful blooms.

I expect to always adore edible gardening, but now I’ll eat my words and not just my plants. Ornamental flowers are not “wasted space” in my beds and are actually pretty fun to raise. There, I said it. Now feel free to enjoy these pictures while I go pick some blueberries before the birds get them.

Who knew primrose got this HUGE?!

The primrose bloomed today for the first time!

A peony that had one bloom last year and one bloom this year. How can I encourage more flowers?

I thought these were going to be green flowers… guess I was thinking bells of Ireland.

There’s chives, basil, thyme and rosemary in with the hostas and geraniums.

Zebra hollyhocks are putting on a show! These little porcelain looking flowers just keep coming!