There are many great reasons to grow flowers and vegetables together. Complimentary plants can help pest management. The nasturtium, which is a flower common to many gardens, is said to reduce aphids, cabbage worms and whiteflies, so grow it among your brussels sprouts and broccoli. As well as looking great, it provides ground cover like a mulch and as a bonus, the leaves, flowers and seeds are edible. I've planted it in a few areas this year and cannot wait to see the effect of the creeping orange and red flowers among my vegetables.
The area of the garden in which I am currently concentrating my efforts is a patch near the patio that was cleared when a huge bush of box honeysuckle was removed. This is how overgrown the area at the back of the house had gotten (blame a new baby):
I can't believe we let it get so bad, and look at the ivy eating one of the bedroom windows:
A few days work in the good weather and we removed the ivy, all the brambles by the back door and the huge bush. After this photo was taken, the big spiky plant was cut back (I don't know what it's called but I know it's common enough).
Here's how the area looked a few weeks ago. The box honeysuckle has proven vigorous and has grown back but I am keeping it trimmed. Wood chips were laid down months ago but they are thin on the ground at this stage. In the foreground you can see pansies, wallflowers and a purple sprouting broccoli. Under the spiky bush are nice creeping plants that will release tiny flowers in many colours later in the year. I'm hoping they will have spread by then. In the pots are lupins, some of which have been moved into the ground now.
Vacant space around the big spiky bush:
And the area where the brambles once roamed:
To get my flower patch off to a good start, a very generous neighbour gave me a load of flower divisions from her garden. Look at all this:
There were at least twenty varieties in the pile, of all shapes and textures. I got to work immediately planting them, continuing even as a massive hailstone shower hit. When everything was in the ground, the result was unimpressive at first as many of the plants are small slips, but even after just a few weeks of sun and rain, they are already beginning to fill out and flower.
I'm slowly building up a rockery around the base of the spiky plant to hide the huge ugly root:
In the open area, I've planted out garlic that I had over-wintered in modules, in my efforts to mix flowers and veg. Beetroot seeds have also been planted and I am looking forward to seeing the effect of the purple leaves among the flowers.
Nice textures are filling up the blank spaces but I've still a bit of weeding to do:
Forget-me-nots are flowering:
A few shells are added to the rockery and lots more decoration needed. Another good excuse to go to the beach:
So far the flower bed has cost me next to nothing. Now I have to give it my time and allow the plants time to grow. If you don't need the instant effect, growing from seed and cuttings is a really cheap way to garden. I cannot wait to update this post with photos in a few months and I guarantee my patience will have paid off.