Top 5 Flowers for the Vegetable Garden or Allotment

It must be said, a veg garden in full productive swing is a thing of beauty. Throw some flowers into the mix and you have yourself a masterpiece. Apart from fruit, veg and herb flowers which are beautiful in their own right, I always include flowers to grow in our veg garden to attract pollinators and for cutting to enjoy inside the house.

Here are my top 5 easy-to-grow flowers for the vegetable garden or allotment:

1.  Sweet Pea

sweet peas

Great for cutting with delicious scent and early colour, grow them up a willow obelisk for a gorgeous stylish look, cut regularly to encourage more blooms. Dwarf varieties are great for growing in containers or for gardens where space is an issue. My favourites are old-fashioned grandiflora types and strongly scented tall climbers. A lovely variety to try is ‘Old Spice’ from Mr Fothergill’s.

2.  Cosmos

cosmos

Summer colour which lasts well into late autumn, good for cutting and attracting pollinators. Adding height and interest to the garden they can grow quite tall and get a bit wild and airy, but that’s what I love about them. Beautiful feathery foliage and flowers in many colours from soft white to bold crimson. For smaller gardens try growing the better behaved dwarf varieties.

Sarah Raven Bright Lights Cosmos

For something a little different try ‘Bright Lights’ from Sarah Raven, beautiful shades of orange to liven up any plot.

3. Sunflowers

sunflower

The well-known yellow giants as well as other coloured cultivars are perfect for attracting bees and hoverflies to the veg garden, during autumn and winter the large seed heads become a feast for wild birds.

dwarf sunflower

Great first flowers for children to grow, a firm favourite with adults too! I grew a beautiful multi-branching variety called ‘Black Magic’ this year from Mr Fothergill’s – not truly black but blooms of the darkest maroon. The seeds are black and small enough for all wild birds to enjoy, as they currently are in our garden!

4. Nasturtiums

nasturtium in a trough planter

This is such a versatile plant/flower and perfect for poor soils. Grow in the border, beds or containers, flowers and leaves are edible with a spicy punchy flavour and perfect for adding colour and a hint of pepper to a salad. Seed pods are edible too (best when green) and resemble capers, learn how to pickle them with this lovely article by What You Sow.

cabbage white caterpillar

Nasturtiums are attractive to pollinators and can be used as a distraction plant to Cabbage White butterflies, steering them away from brassicas to lay their eggs. Mighty handy if you love your cabbages, although you might want to check your salad before munching! Keep sowing throughout the year to extend the flowering time well into autumn, they’ll keep going till the frosts come.

5. Rudbeckia Gloriosa Daisies

img_0012rudbeckiagloriosadaises

I grow this type of Rudbeckia as a half hardy annual, spectacular colour from summer right through to late autumn. Bold flowers with different pattern markings glow in autumn sunshine, they also brighten up the veg patch on a dreary day when little else is in bloom. Support is needed, they grow well over 4ft high, lovely as a cut flower. I use Mr Fothergill’s seed starting them off in seed trays in spring and pricking out strong plants to grow on in individual pots, planting out after the risk of frosts has passed. Plant in clumps, ideal where space is not an issue.

 

July in the Garden Smallholding

The garden is in full swing with frequent mini harvests of potatoes, carrots, beets, peas, soft fruits, onions, beans and squash (I could go on) providing plenty for meals, which of course generates a great sense of achievement and pride. A few days of much-needed rain gave the kitchen garden the boost it so desperately needed in order to spring back to life, sun-scorched tones soon changed to lush green – I find it fascinating how rain can change the colours and textures of a garden so quickly, almost like a magical tonic.

I’ve grown some beautiful flowers from seed this year including pretty Cosmos pictured above. Cosmos is one of my favourites for attracting wildlife, the flowers are like magnets for bees and butterflies. I’m slowly forgiving the sunflowers for their poor show this year, they’re still my absolute favourite flower.