Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Flowers in the vegetable garden

Today is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in the gardening world, hosted by May Dreams Gardens.  Anyone with a gardening blog can link in with a post about what's blooming in their garden, and today that includes Grow It Eat It.  But we're all about vegetables, you say.  Well, vegetables have flowers too, and it's also great to have non-vegetable (though sometimes edible) flowers in the vegetable garden, to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Here's some of what's blooming at the Derwood Demo Garden this week.  First, flowering vegetables:

We still have a very few scarlet runner beans blooming, where they get a little shade from other plants.  The more exposed scarlet runners on the teepee are beginning to look like they might revive, however, now that our days and nights are a bit cooler.

Most beans have pretty flowers, in fact.  These are our new best friend Provider.

My favorite flower in the vegetable garden is okra.  Even if you don't like okra, you should plant it for the flowers and the leaves.  The red varieties are especially lovely.

The malabar spinach in the Kitchen Garden is just starting to come into bloom.  Another gorgeous edible.

Among the herbs, fennel is one of the most beautiful and a good attractor of beneficials.  Even if it is annoying to have to pull out five thousand volunteer plants every year.

Garlic chives belongs in the same category.  Pretty, edible, great for attracting insects, spreads itself around like crazy.  Plant with caution.

Anise hyssop is a little better behaved, or maybe it's just that I love to have it around.  Bees like it.

This is not a flower.  This is a parasitized hornworm caterpillar on a tomato plant.  Just as welcome a sight, though.

We added a Passiflora incarnata (native passion flower or maypop) to the garden this year, and it's growing up a fence with typical abandon.  It may take over the garden next year, but I don't care because the flowers are so lovely.  We may even get fruit from it some day.

We put in another native, Joe-Pye weed, in the spot next to the Jerusalem artichokes where nothing else would grow in their shadow.

The Unwin's Dwarf dahlias are all doing splendidly this year, including the ones we didn't dig up that survived the non-winter.  Bees like these, too, and if you can't justify them in a vegetable garden any other way, both the petals and the tubers are edible.

This is the lone sunflower that came up from an early summer planting.  I think it does the job.  The bee thinks so too.

I always have zinnias in the vegetable garden.  There doesn't have to be a reason other than that they're cheerful, but they do also attract bees and butterflies.  I got the seeds for these at a swap, and they were labeled "purple zinnia" so I can't tell you the variety.

This is Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) 'Aztec Sun,' with an ailanthus webworm moth, a very useful creature whose larvae eat ailanthus (tree of heaven, an invasive thug).

That's most of what's blooming in the vegetable garden, but of course we have many more blooms in other parts of the garden, and this is a splendidly colorful time of year for flowers.  May yours bloom long and beautiful!

8 comments:

  1. Love it! Peas and okra are two of my favorite flowers, in the veg garden or not!

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  2. Your veggie flowers look better than most of my mid-August perennial flowers--and make for better eating too.

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    Replies
    1. Well, we do have magic soil there. :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Weeds do count, if they have a flower that attracts beneficial insects, if you like to look at them, and if you can keep them under control (don't let them go to seed). Weeds are in the eye of the beholder, really. I count garlic chives as a weed, just a useful one.

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  4. Just beautiful! I want a tour of the demo garden!

    Last night I found a bee - fast asleep and firmly attached - on the underside of a sweet potato leaf. I took a photo of it and a sweet potato flower but guess I can't attach it here.

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    Replies
    1. Ria! You should come over for a tour sometime! And I love sleepy bee photos, send it along.

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