Plants to Include for a Better Garden

The reward of watching nature grow is that it allows you to witness the wholeness of the living process. In a garden, it is an ecosystem where you are the designer. You decide what, where, and how. You understand the issues on your piece of land. You plant, encourage the current players, and watch how they make their presence known. 

The goal is to thrive and provide. To grow for ourselves, and at the same time, to create balance. Through observation and experimentation, gardeners discover what plants are right for their space.  Some plants, I find particularly useful in the garden are Yarrow, Salvias, Nasturtiums, Sweet Alyssum, Violets, and Ferns.

Yarrow in the garden

It is prolific, it can grow in grass, a benefit to natural yards. It is perennial zone 3-9, grown in full sun to woodland edges, and is drought tolerant. Acting as a nice ground cover in a traditional beds, Yarrow has fern like leaves and tall flowers loved by beneficials. With an extensive root system, it can bring nutrients up from deep within the soil. This characteristic can be helpful with the soil remediation process, just be sure to not use the plants and dispose of them rather than compost to remove toxins completely from the remediation site. Luckily, yarrow will self seed, so if you remove after seeds set, you can easily shake out seeds to have continuous growth. The hope would be to eventually have less and less toxins at the site through the process. Soil testing will be your tool to know the outcome of your efforts. 

Herbal-ly, yarrow is great for soothing the skin in an oil infusion, but please consult a doctor before using yarrow internally. There may be interactions you need to be aware of specific to your being.

Salvia in the garden

In my previous post, I tell you of my adoration of salvias. A member of the mint family, they are strong growers, but not invasive. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies. They are just a delight, offering up a variety of plants, some annual and some perennial. They are drought tolerant and capable of being grown in full sun as well as some being able to take part shade. Research is ongoing of the cognitive benefits of salvias in helping with dementia.

Nasturtium in the garden

Nasturtiums are edible and have the most amazing lily pad type leaves. They can be vining or more compact. I particularly like the vining type to act as a living mulch in and throughout my garden beds. They thrive in poor soil, so packing them into a bed or container is no issue.

Sweet Alyssum in the garden

This is the sweetest smelling plant that invites beneficials like ladybugs and hoverfly. I have had it self seed in zone 5. With a honey scent, it just makes the garden pleasant.

Violets in the garden

Many folks look at violets as a weed. With early Spring blooms, they are a lovely addition to a lawn and provide early food for pollinators. The flowers are high in vitamin C and useful to the skin. See my previous violet post for a quick oil infusion recipe.

Ferns in the garden

I just adore ferns. I love how they grow and unfurl. I love how there are tropical and temperate ferns. I love the green. My favorite for zone 5 is the ostrich fern. The early fiddleheads are edible and then they make a lush carpet of fronds as they mature. They can fill in areas in deep shade that would normally not have much growing. In my Chicago garden, I grew them in the smallest sliver of soil between our building’s sidewalk and the neighbor’s exterior wall. The soil was possibly only 4 inches deep, but it was enough for them to run up and down the path. They spread mostly through stolon (underground runners). My experience is that they are great at filling in and easy enough to pull out that I see no issue with them growing to their heart’s content in my yard.

There are so many wonderful plants out there and everyone has their favorites. Play in your garden and see what you end up loving.

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