Since taking over garden duties at “Ratz Manor” my tasks have been pretty much confined to hacking back the briars, in scenes reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty. I have purchased a few cheap plants and thrown them into the ground to take their chances. I was also buoyed by my success with my Alpine trough (although I understand that Alpines are almost impossible to kill).
I was admiring a far more competent gardener’s flowers on Twitter and she very kindly posted me some seeds. I decided to reclaim a flower border that the lawn had encroached onto. The principles of “no dig” gardening appealed to me, so I put newspaper down on the grassy bits, soaked it and covered it with some rough garden compost. I then put down a layer of peat free compost.
Spring arrived and I sowed some of the seeds. We had some late frosts and nothing was growing, so I sowed some more. Of course we then had a heatwave and drought, but I diligently watered them every day. I was perhaps a little over excited when some seedlings started to show themselves. I did a little dance when there was an actual flower bud.
I love the colour of the sulphur cosmos.
Cosmos flowers were used to create dye by the inhabitants of America before the Europeans arrived. Indeed they are still being used as a dye now, this website shows you how.
The calendula also flowered and in different varieties. These are members of the daisy family and include marigolds. They are often used to decorate Hindu statues.
Calendula petals are edible and can be used in salads and soups. They are also used as a cheap alternative to saffron and used to colour cheese. They can also be used as a fabric dye.
Calendula is considered to have healing properties and was used to treat wounds during the American Civil War and WWI.
Both the cosmos and the calendula have fulfilled their roles in my garden border by looking attractive and being useful to pollinators such as hoverflies.
If you wish to see these and other flowers being put to much better effect, see Nadine Mitschunas’ wildlife garden blog here.