Daisy’s Tips: Workhorse Flowers To Fill Out Any Garden

This time of year I often think about what I lovingly refer to as “workhorse flowers”– flowers and blossoming herbs that are the unsung heroes of the garden. Take verbena, for example– it’s very prolific and once it starts growing it doesn’t stop, plus it’s a gorgeous purple color, adding vibrance and texture without too much maintenance.

The enthusiasm I have for verbena is similar to how I feel about cosmos– I’m fascinated by plants that are both beautiful and functional. I put a scented geranium in my garden because it smells lovely when you brush up against it…and citronella is a natural mosquito repellant. The examples of workhorse flowers– plants that do double duty– is endless: you can cook with rose, mint goes wild in any environment, salvias go on and on and on, growing dutifully— it’s not a super sexy species, but it works super hard. I also love sweet peas, even though you have to stake them and they are fragile (the same is true of lavender)– but there are certain things you can’t overlook in garden, and these details are often the most amazing. I love plants that do super well, that you don’t have to circle back with and mommy relentlessly. Russian sage, for example, is a perennial and it’s gorgeous– it doesn’t take a lot of attention, you only have to prune it once at the beginning of the season, and it blooms mid- to end of Fall. 

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Cosmos not only fill in a garden, they add to it. I love my poppies, but sometimes they don’t come– and this is when the workhorse flowers matter. The oregano, the sage, the parsley— they take up different sections with a nice size and texture. The onion is amazing, too— allium is beautiful, you can use it in salads, it spreads out, it fills in the garden with a tiny spark of whimsy. I like things that spread because they add character— my Mother’s garden is like that— super old and established, but crazy things pop up; sedum here, a random calla lily there— the list of constant surprises goes on and on.

This spring, consider planting some “workhorse flowers” in your garden– cosmos, Russian sage, verbena, geranium, and any variations on these classics. The results will be both low-maintenance and aesthetically-pleasing, which, in the realm of gardening, is the best of both worlds.

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