They don’t produce foodstuff like my vegetables. Generally speaking. There are those out there among us who eat flowers, but not this “us.” Unless it’s the bloom from my basil and then yes, I’m all about eating flowers.
Some blooms don’t even produce fragrance. Take my geraniums, for instance. I think it’s the leaves that carry the familiar smell from my grandmother’s garden, the distinct scent that can transport a girl back to her youth, back to a Sunday drive along Lakeshore Drive in Michigan where geraniums line front porches in Traverse City, sweep the grounds of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island…
Flowers are very potent. Memorable. Not only can they fill your senses with their bouquet of color, but they’ll bring a smile to your face. My mother was known for her gardenia. Once a year she’d clip the white beauties and carry them indoors, their heavy perfume infusing the house with their presence. We kids could always count on finding her in a good mood when she was clipping her gardenia.
And if your friend is in the hospital? What better gift than a gargantuan sunflower?
How about some of my favorite gerber daisies?
One can’t help but feel better when surrounded by flowers. And I think that might be their purpose. Flowers are on this earth to fill our hearts with charity, bring smiles to our faces, share love with those near and dear and of course, make our world a brighter, more beautiful space.
But don’t discount their practical functionality altogether! As a gardener I can tell you: plant marigolds around your vegetables and flowers and you’ll not have to worry about underground marauders. These gorgeous blooms of sunshine make the best companions because they repel critters like nematodes and whiteflies. Have you heard better news today?
“Not I!” said the rose to the fly.
Did you know that parsley is a natural breath freshener? Yep. A couple of chomps on this distinctive green and you’ll feel minty fresh and ready to converse. So next time you see that little gem on your dinner plate, pluck a few leaves off and plop them in your mouth. Your table companions will thank you.
Basil? This one is just pain delicious with a scent rivaling the rose–IMHO–but guess what? It’s also good for digestion. And you probably know that chamomile has calming abilities, but how about lavender? I don’t know about you, but every time I catch the scent of lavender I’m instantly transformed into a relaxing machine!
But lavender does double-duty. Not only is it perfect for bath time before bed, this plant is said to repel fleas. *gee* Does it get any better? Plant it everywhere–inside, outside, you name it!
Talk about two-timing duties, did you know that cilantro and coriander come from the same plant? Yes, ma’am! The first leaves are used as cilantro (think salsa), but if you let it continue to grow and flower, you’ll find yourself with a whole host of coriander seeds. Awesome. Just awesome.
One of my all-time favorite herbs is rosemary. Not only does it make for a great hedge around the house, but this one provides a natural mental boost. Simply brush your hands through its leaves and inhale. Ahhh……. Better yet, it prevents forgetfulness. Woo hoo! I mean, who doesn’t need that?
And your kids will love this one: how about growing your own sugar? Well, in so many words, that is. Stevia is a plant that produces naturally sweet leaves–leaves you can use to sweeten almost anything. The kids and I made a lovely cucumber soup sweetened with stevia, and it was delightful. (They ate it, anyway.) But how about lemonade? Pull a few lemons from that tree and juice them up, add a few leaves of stevia and blend. Voila! Instant homemade lemonade to die for. Add a cup of steeped rosemary per gallon of lemonade and now you have yourself a REAL treat. For this recipe and others, check out my garden blog Bloominthyme!
Caution: if you love both basil and rosemary, be aware that planting basil near rosemary can KILL your rosemary plant. Who knew?
Got ants? No problem. Plant mint–peppermint, spearmint, plain mint–they’re all good not to mention they make wonderful borders along walkways and flower beds. Last but not least is my beloved aloe plant. You may have heard this one is good for burns and you heard right. Anytime I burn myself slaving away over a hot stove or oven (the things I do for my family), I immediately cut a spiked aloe leaf and rub the gooey salve directly on the fresh wound. I’ll warn you, it’s stinky (and stains), but doing so will eliminate any scar you may otherwise have suffered. LOVE it!
So what do you say? Know of any special herbs or plants in the garden with outstanding qualities that I missed?