I know, I know, I've been slacking. My garden hasn't though!
As I plan and work in my garden each year, I realize that I am adding more and more plants that do double duty. This is an example of one of my latest small floral arrangements (so far I have managed to get about this many flowers once a week!)The large pink and white geraniums and purple and yellow pansies are garden work horses. They flower before most other things, are easy to obtain, and are edible. They are also easy to propagate, so I can buy a plant or two, and with a little effort, keep them in my garden for years. They are also edible and add a fancy touch to salad and sorbet!
The yellow spiky ones are columbines. I bought one in the middle of the summer last year because it was past its blooming peak, perennial, and on sale cheap. It out did itself this spring with sprays of flowers brightening the garden for over a month. They aren't edible for humans, but the cone shaped flowers are good for attracting humming birds and bigger butterflies/moths to pollinate and brighten the garden. They don't last very long as cut flowers, but since there are so many on the plant, and their interesting shape adds a lot of character, I think columbine will also be a part of my garden for a long time to come.
Also tucked into the vase are lavender flowers and thyme. They both smell wonderful and can be eaten. When I'm feeling adventurous I may steep some of each in sugar syrup and see what kinds of wonderful cocktails I can make with the infused syrup. I use both the greenery from the plants and the little purple flowers of each to add some body and scent to arrangements. I made some lovely bath salts from lavender leaves and epsom salt. I've learned my lesson though, next time I will put the leaves in cheesecloth because so I don't have to pick them all out of the drain mesh.
It's still a little too early for most veggies, but it is prime time for sugar snap peas. I'm not sure why I always have such a difficult time getting them started, but they have finally started growing up their trellis, and I have had a handful of these heavenly little sweet crunchy morsels. Hopefully I will get a few more before the heat kills the tender vines off. Since the plants don't last through the heat of the summer, when the heat really starts to hit I put the beans in the ground so when the peas die off the beans will be big enough to immediately take over the trellis.Another early veggie that is finally hitting its stride is the cabbage. They have been hiding under row cover to help prevent their being eaten by cabbage worms and I finally uncovered them to let them finish filling out. The head in the picture is about the size of a tangerine. The kind I grow is called pareils and only get about the size of a grapefruit. Since I put them in in two batches, this means that I have single dinner size heads that mature over a 2 or 3 week period. Right now it is looking like I will get about 6 heads. Braised cabbage and coleslaw, here I come! I added a few cucumber seeds and squash seeds in the spaces between the heads so when the cabbage comes out the next veggies are ready to take over their spots. Someday I will have it worked out that my garden produces something all year round, with cold frames holding lettuce, cabbage and chard for the winter; peas, cabbage and spinach for spring; and squash, beans and tomatoes for summer. Then as those die off the next round of greens go in until its time to pull out the cold-frames.
All and all the the plants in my garden seem to need to have at least one virtue beyond beauty in order to earn a place. Being edible, attracting pollinators and interesting critters, growing at a time when little else will grow and being good for cut flowers means I get the most bang for my buck and best use of space. Waste not, want not!