I love flowers of all shapes and sizes in my homestead. To make the most use of my land, I try to focus on flowers that can pull double duty. Not only are they beautiful to look at and great for the bees — these top six favorites do even more. You will want to use plants that have not been sprayed with pesticides. When picking from a live plant, leave a few leaves and flowers to keep it growing and producing more.
Sunflower. Especially the Monster Sunflower. At the end of the season, I dry the seeds for the birds to eat over the winter, or just place the whole dried head out for them. I use the dried large stalks/stems as either fire kindling or teepee structure to hold vine plants in the garden.
Lavender. Use the lovely purple flower buds for baking (don’t use too much or it will taste soapy), stuffing for sachets, or dried bouquets to hang for a beautiful air freshener. I use the wood sticks and stems in the fireplace for a beautiful scent — they have that wonderful lavender oil in those woody sticks and stems.
Marigolds. These beautiful little plants of orange and yellow pom pom flowers are great to border around your garden to keep away snakes, mice and rabbits because of the strong scent. I deadhead the spent flowers not only for seed saving next year but also to use the petals in papermaking. The petals give a wonderful texture and color to handmade paper sheets and also look great in seed balls.
Borage. Technically borage is an herb but has a beautiful blue petal flower. I use the leaves in salads because they have a wonderful light cucumber taste. The edible blue flowers have a sweet honey taste and can be used directly in salads, as garnish, in cocktails, or to decorate desserts. You can also crystallize the flowers to make borage candy (they look like little fairies – so magical!)
Johnny Jump Ups. This flower shows up early in my garden and is a great edible flower to decorate the first baked goods and salads of the season. It has a mild wintergreen flavor that is delicious. This versatile flower is also great in infused vinegars, jellies, and more. I like it better than its relative the larger pansy, because it is more heat-tolerant.
Roses. This beautiful, fragrant flower comes in all shapes and sizes and is edible. Use the fresh petals on toast, in a salad or as garnish. Fresh petals can also be used to make rose water for skincare. My favorite is to use dried rose petals in bath bombs and potpourri.
Flowers in your garden are a beautiful site to see visually. If you plant flowers that can be used for more than just a visual delight, you are making a more sustainable garden. You may have many of these already in your garden growing. Don’t get overwhelmed, however, and think you have to use all they produce. Use what you can, when you can, and leave the rest for a beautiful sight.
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