My Ornamental Specialty
My gardening hobby started with a love for the beauty of ornamental blooms. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate foliage plants like succulents that sometimes flower, and I’ve realized the importance of vegetable and fruit crops. But my first plantings were decorative blooms for my outdoor areas.
Once I began planting and growing them, I realized there was much to learn. I don’t think I even knew the differences between annuals and perennials, but somehow, I picked up the information by reading. Shortly afterward I discovered the great series of Rodale gardening books. If I recall correctly, my first plantings were spring flowering bulbs in autumn and pansies in early spring.
Enter the Internet
Thereafter the internet became available, offering all that gardening info in one place. I become further addicted. I purchased growing plants from all the box stores. I got a good start at the home improvement stores, where I learned that many common and unusual ornamentals aren’t available already growing. As most gardeners eventually do, I turned to planting seeds, and learned a whole new set of growing rules.
Adding Herbs to Ornamental Beds
I also found a whole new set of plants to grow in my expanding garden beds. Before long I’d added ornamental herbs to my summer blooms and studied about companion planting. Much of this info stayed with me, and I still enjoy growing and using herbs that don’t grow in every other garden on the block. Rosemary, Lavender and Cardoon are long-lasting with attractive flowers.
More common herbs, like basil and cilantro have various important functions and should not be overlooked. Cilantro helps decrease obesity when combined with a healthy diet. This herb may also prevent diabetes or help with the existing condition. While cilantro alone can’t accomplish these, a daily addition of it to your food assists with keeping you healthy. The seeds, known as coriander, are good for you too, and can be included in smoothies.
Basil is another common herb with wide and varied uses. A great addition to many Italian dishes, the herb can be preserved as an herbal vinegar. Basil is also a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Grow it along with tomato plants to improve their flavor and repel mites, aphids, and other garden pests. Learn about similar benefits from companion planting with other herbs.
Pest Control from Ornamental Blooms
Many ornamentals provide pest control properties in the vegetable garden. Blooms draw beneficial insects, like lady beetles and soldier bugs who, in turn, devour and kill those pests that damage your growing crops. Plants of the chrysanthemum family are especially good for this.
A practice called farmscaping suggests devoting five to ten percent of your planting space to growing four season plants that attract beneficial insects. I continue to grow unusual ornamental blooms, experimenting with blossoms for all seasons and starting many of them from seed.