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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My top garden plants - Sedums, Nasturtiums and Borage

I have many kinds of these sedums in my garden - I particularly love the ones with purple foliage as they look great even when not in flower, although their flowers are less showy than the kind in the photos below. It doesn't matter what colour their flowers or foliage are though, they are always crawling with honey bees when in flower!

They are fabulous for my very dry free draining soil and I'm trying to get more and more plants like this to save me continually watering. My purple varieties self seed all over the place but as yet the others haven't; only time will tell.

This peacock butterfly likes it too!

Nasturtiums. What a fabulous and easy plant this is to grow! I've only ever sown seed once and ever since I have a bright display growing up and through the fence of my veg patch; indeed towards the end of the growing season they've spread all through my currant bushes and gone a bit wild, so sometimes I do have to trim them back a bit. Even if their only use was the colourful flowers I'd be content. However they have many other uses!

The flowers, seeds pods and leaves are all edible and the leaves are quite hot and peppery so can be added to salads, although I wouldn't want to eat a plateful of just their leaves as I think that could be a bit OTT. Do take care not to pick any leaves covered in blackfly or caterpillars though! The flowers look brilliant decorating plates of food for your fancy summer buffet meals. The seed pods can be used to make poor man's capers although I've not tried that myself.

They are probably best known as a companion plant in the veg patch as, as well as attracting black fly they are often planted amongst brassicas as our 'friends' the cabbage white butterflies are attracted to their leaves for laying their eggs on. The idea is that they will do this on your nasturtiums rather than your brassicas - however although this may work for some I find I end up with perfect looking nasturtiums with not a hole in the leaves whilst the caterpillars happily prefer chomping on my PSB and curly kale! Oh well, good thing the nasturtiums are pretty then. They can take a bit of frost too and were still flowering here until December.

They just self seeded in amongst my brassicas last year

Borage. I've already posted several photos of this absolutely beautiful flower. The plants take up a fair bit of space and can be quite floppy but even if you only have a little bit of room in a corner of your veg patch, or a flower bed where you sow annuals, do try to have a few. Be warned though, once you've got them you've always got them and you have to be quite brutal with hoeing them off or pulling out as they will get everywhere! But I'm quite used to my plants self seeding so don't have any problems with this.

Just like nasturtium flowers, borage flowers are edible and the bright blue is just so, well, blue that again they look amazing decorating a plate of food or a salad or floating in a summery drink. The leaves are supposed to taste of cucumber but I can't bring myself to try, as they are very spiky/hairy and give me a bit of a rash if I touch them without gloves so I give this a miss.

One of the main reasons for growing them though, is that bumble bees just adore them, and they carry on flowering quite late through lightish frosts until the temps hit really below zero.

There are other plants which are attractive to bees and butterflies in my garden, but I'll wait until they are all flowering again and add them in at the appropriate time. 


  1. Yes, nasturtians are good value plants. Mine too were flowering through until the frost in January. Only pulled them up three weeks ago. They're like triffids once they get going!

  2. Hello! I have awarded you a versatile blogger award!

  3. I love borage, but for some reason it hasn't self seeded in my garden, I think we are a bit dry and dark for it.

  4. Bonnie - it self seeds here and it's very dry in places, it's just a much smaller plant when it is in a very dry spot. Maybe it is the shade that is the problem?

    Sara - wow! Thank you very much. I have looked at your blog and see I have to pass it on - will get my thinking cap on!