Flowering Friday – thoughts on companion plants

                               Hosta & Astilbe love shade

A garden is the perfect companion for us, just as certain plants are for each other. 🙂

Some of my favourites include:

  • Basil & Tomatoes
  • Corn, Beans, & Squash
  • Leeks & Carrots
  • Borage & Tomatoes
  • Dill & Lettuce
  • Flax & Potatoes
  • Lavender & Thyme
  • Oregano & Peppers
  • Wormwood & Sedum
  • Lemon balm & bee balm
  • Hosta & Astilbe (see photo)

Wormwood & Sedum

What are some of your favourite flower, vegetable, or herbal combinations?

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

 

Baptisia – A blue flowered beauty for any garden!

Baptisia, also known as false indigo, is a genus in the legume family, Fabaceae.

This herbaceous flowering perennial offers pea-like flowers that once pollinated, produce pea-like seed pods.

The bees love these flowers, which means food for them, and in turn, allows me to collect the seeds and sow them all around the garden.

Native to woodlands in eastern North America, the species most commonly cultivated is called Baptisia australis, which is the one shown in my photo.

Baptisia species are food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the lovely Jaguar Flower moth, Schinia jaguarina.

Baptisia grows to 3 feet tall and form wide clumps that might need some support when they’re heavily laden with seed heads.

They’ll really thrive in full sun, but do well with some shade, too. Once established, they’re quite drought tolerant, and, it’s best to leave them alone. The deep roots of this plant do not appreciate being moved.

I love Baptisia, not just because its flowers are a bee magnet, but because deer won’t eat them, and because they offer a real true blue flower in the garden.

In the garden, they look great combined with any other colour nature offers, but I love them paired with purple coneflower, clumps of lavender, tall white phlox, purple liatris, and big Rudbeckias.

Along with blue, Baptisia also offers gardeners white or yellow flowers. I’ll be on the lookout for those this coming year!

Just a note on toxicity, apparently the leaves are somewhat toxic, (hence the deer not eating them), and I think the seeds are too, so though they’re related to the Pea family, they’re definitely not edible. Don’t eat them!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Gardening!

The flower power of Nasturtiums – More than just a pretty face! Edible flower gardening

Nasturtium – A real power flower!

Did you know? Edible flowers contain many vitamins and minerals. They’re rich in nectar and pollen, too.

When I was a little girl, I remember quite clearly a time when my Mom grabbed a daffodil away from my hand (that I’d just picked from her garden), and was about to shove in my mouth to eat.  I have two points to make about this little flashback.

1) NEVER eat anything from the garden unless you know it’s okay! (Daffodils are NOT okay, and your Mom will agree).

2) For some reason, I’ve always looked at flowers in a way that some people look at a big juicy steak!

Years later, now with a garden of my own, (and a bit of knowledge thankfully), I grow flowers that not only attract pollinators, but some I can eat, and so can you!

Rose hips & Lavender

For the rose connoisseur, rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C and may contain up to 50 times more of this vitamin than you’d find in an orange. In this post however, I’d like to talk about Nasturtiums.

I’ve grown these pretty, eye-catching flowers for many years so they’ll trail along the front of my garden border. But the best part is that this plant is edible.

It’s fairly well known that the flower can be used in salads and stir fry’s. With a slight peppery flavour, it reminds me of watercress. More than just tasty, nasturtium flowers are high in vitamin C., (about the same amount you’d find in parsley), and in addition, they contain the highest amount of lutein found in any edible plant.

Lutein is a natural carotenoid found in orange-yellow fruits/flowers, leafy vegetables like kale, (carrots of course), and egg yolk. (A flamingo’s diet is rich in carotenoids which gives them the pink plumage that makes them so beautiful!)

In our eyes, carotenoids are present in macular pigments, where their importance in aiding against ocular disease is currently under clinical research. So eat your plants. 🙂

Saving Nasturtium seeds

I save nasturtium seeds to plant more next year, but I also harvest some unripe pods to create condiments, especially spiced herbal vinegars.

For this recipe, simply steep them in a jar of vinegar for a week or two, along with any other herbs you like for additional flavour, (shake daily), then strain and bottle. It’s really that easy!

The leaves are also rich in vitamin C, and in addition, they contain a sulphur compound that apparently offers an excellent anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antibiotic source when eaten.

Nasturtiums, Hollyhocks, Scarlet Runner beans

Edible flowers should be picked in late morning after the dew has gone, but before the sun is high in the sky. Pick the fully open flowers.

Never eat any flower that’s been in contact with chemicals or other poisons such as pesticides or herbicides. Organic is always the way to go! If you grow it yourself, you know it’s safe for your family. Otherwise, the local farmers’ market is another great source to find healthy food.

Much like growing grapes for making wine, flowers of the same variety, but grown in different locations, will have a slightly different taste.

This ‘terroir‘ as it’s called, (and I just love this word!) 🙂 is pronounced tĕr-wär′. It offers the complete set of local conditions where a particular fruit, vegetable, or herb, (cheese & other hand crafted food), is produced, including the soil-type, weather conditions, topography, obtains its individual character.

Flowers and foliage may taste a little different at the end of the growing season too, and can vary from year to year. Think of dandelion leaves which for me, always taste best in spring.

And, the best part you ask? Flowers are mostly free of calories!

Once more

Do NOT eat ANYTHING from the garden if you aren’t absolutely sure you know what it is first! – Thank you!

More edible flowers

Bee balm
Borage
Calendula
Chamomile
Chive flowers
Dandelion
Daylily
Lavender
Lilac
Marigold
Mint
Nasturtium
Pansy
Rose hips
Sage
Squash blossom
Violet

Have fun experimenting, and happy gardening! ~ Karen

Milkweed and Monarchs #ThursdayThoughts

What more can I add to the already enormous amount of factual information & interesting literature in cyberspace, stating why we should plant milkweed in the garden to help Monarch butterflies?!

Not much, I admit…

(Sharing those links below).

In any case, I’ll try to promote the idea by sharing here how this past summer, I let the milkweed roam & grow where they liked.

Did I mention their scent is lovely? Well, it really is. -> Next year, take a snootful and see (smell) for yourself what I mean.

Rarely, but on occasion, the ‘o.c.d./weeding/tidy up the garden’ gardener in me, reached in towards the flower beds in order to pluck a few out.

But, I came to my senses and resisted… then scolded myself in the process.

Glad I restrained myself, because when it comes right down to it, what is a garden really for?

Our personal enjoyment yes, but also to encourage and help the other beings on this planet thrive, be they insects, birds, or mammals.

At the end of the season I was duly rewarded with plenty of seeds pods that burst forth in a spectacular fashion! Truly, they are nature’s understated fireworks.

So, I collected many seed pods and dried them in order to scatter those seeds all around our property next spring.

Here’s hoping it helps our winged friends, even a little bit, and that many of them will visit me next year.

Just some thoughts on a snowy winter day. 🙂

Further reading

Nature Watch Canada

National Wildlife Federation

PBS 

Monarch Watch

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Musk Mallow, or Malva moschata for Flowering Friday

Widely grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive and slightly scented flowers, the musk mallow blooms throughout the summer.

Several cultivars have been selected for variation in flower colour, including the one shown here from my garden, ‘Rosea’, with its dark pink flowers.  The cultivar ‘Alba’ (white flowered) earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Though not native to North America, (more Eastern European/Central Asia), I consider it an heirloom plant because it’s been in cultivation for a long time, as you can see from the hand-coloured botanical engraving below from the 1700’s.

Pretty colour, lovely scent, drought tolerant, and the bees love them… The musk mallow ticks all the right boxes when I’m choosing flowers for my garden! 🙂