I often have trouble mixing ornamentals and vegetables together in a garden bed that’s supposed to be “for company,” a bed that’s meant to be attractive as well as containing tasty-looking plants that you’d like to take to the dinner table.
Some parts of the garden where I’ve snuck veggies in with the other plants look a little chaotic, but here’s a patch that I really like the looks of. Earlier I showed part of this corner that the bedroom window overlooks. But new things are starting to bloom, and the colors are starting to really click for me.
When I was putting this bed together, I set myself the main rule of “nothing yellow.” In deciding what veggies to place there, I just stuck to that organizing principle. (Okay, can you tell that I work in libraries and organize information during the week?)
This bed features several edibles: red-stemmed chard, orange-stemmed chard, Red Winter red Russian kale, red beets, plus catmint for tea (and for the cat). The ornamentals include scarlet geum, purple heliotrope, violet blue-eyed grass, the salmon-colored bulb Homeria collina, two blue sages (Salvia sagittata and Salvia cacaliaefolia) plus a few other things not in bloom.
For sure, there’s a lot of red and blue and purple going on here. But several variations on green in the background green do wonders to pull together what might otherwise be chaos.
I’m going to hate cutting any of these veggies for dinner…
I was at the day job, prepping for a meeting, when John IMs me from home.
Do you want me to plant the pansies?
Innocent enough question, eh? The day before I’d bought 4 sixpacks of them, little white vanilla numbers that I thought would be good temporary fill at the front of the new planting bed until I could decide what else to plant and until what I’d planted could begin to fill in. They’d been sitting in the sun and getting them in the ground would have been a good thing. So I said sure, go ahead.
When I got home they were in the ground, not exactly where I’d envisioned them, but attractive. John said something about how 4 sixpacks didn’t go very far in the big new bed and how he’d always wanted to do one of those color-zone plantings. Big swaths of one color next to big swaths of another. Something big, splashy and commercial. I groaned a noise that to him must have sounded like agreement.
The next day I get another IM at work. He’s bought more. Lots more. He’d forgotten how many plants he’d put in the previous day, so he got a quantity that he thought was how much he’d already put in. Instead it ended up being 12 more sixpacks. That goes a lot further than just 24 plants!
So there’s the bed full of the original plain white pansies, new dark maroon-purple ones, and another area of new white ones with purple faces. Pansies can be okay fillers up close, but spread throughout a garden uniformly between larger plants they begin to look like……….well, ever been to the landfill on a windy day? Little paper scraps blowing everywhere? Yeah, that was my first impression.
Note to myself: Breath. Let go. Stop feeling like you need to make all the aesthetic decisions. Give it time. They may look perfectly fine when they grow up in a couple months.
A garden is always a collaboration, whether it’s just you and the plants or there are others involved.