I’m not sure why this hasn’t occurred to me until now, perhaps it’s because I’m spending so much more time in the vegetable garden. Truth is, and I’m embarrassed to admit it, I’ve never really paid much attention to flowers in the vegetable garden. At least not until this year. I’ve been so focused on the end result – juicy tomatoes, hot jalapenos and crisp cucumbers – that the flowers just seemed more like a means to an end more than something to admire like one would a zinnia or dahlia.
I’m in love with this space, made new by the raised beds we built to replace the old ones. Connected by a hog panel arched between the two beds that’s now covered in bean blossoms and twisting vines, it feels like a gateway into another world where I get the pleasure of observing the changes that seem to occur overnight. It’s beautifully wild and I love that. Perhaps that’s why I’ve become a more observant gardener this year, growing increasingly more enamored of the flowers that are appearing and perfuming my vegetable garden. They’re also responsible for the constant hum of pollinators that wander in just after sun-up. I’m there too. Coffee in one hand, snips in the other.
For 15 years, I’ve had a vegetable garden, but this is the first year the area around it has been covered in a soft perfume. It’s also the first year I’ve grown pumpkins, specifically Blue Prince, an All-America Selections winner you can read more about here. I had no idea pumpkins emit a delightful fragrance! The pollinators are nuts for it too and it’s like a highway of bees flitting from flower to flower. No matter what pumpkin flower you look into these days, you’re bound to see a bee butt or two.
Another new-to-me crop, potatoes, also has a striking flower. When I posted about it on Instagram, many said I should remove the flowers to encourage better tuber production below ground. Others disagreed and said to leave them alone, so I did. I haven’t the heart to cut these pretty little things and since I have nothing to compare it to, I’ll be happy with just a few potatoes this year so that next year I’ll be better informed on how to proceed.
No matter how hard you try to stave off the inevitable, fernleaf dill is going to bolt. It’s gorgeous spilling (in a normal growing situation it would be upright but the zucchini is bullying it) over the side of the vegetable garden and did it’s job admirably, sustaining numerous Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars, before the flowers took over. I could rip these out and sow more seed, but I’m loving the flowers and I don’t think the neighboring zucchini is going to share the real estate at this point.
The shape and diminutive size of the cucamelon flowers reminds me of forget-me-nots. The vines are covered in these sweet yellow flowers and I’m anticipating a bountiful harvest from another new-to-me vegetable.
I started rattlesnake, emerite and purple pole beans from seed in May. They’re among my favorites and I buy them every year from Renee’s Garden. I blinked and found the hog panel completely covered with twisting vines full of flowers in various shades of pink and purple. The beans are growing longer everyday and I love the simplicity of this crop. One of the sow it and forget it types whose return is bigger than your investment, provided you keep on picking!
And what’s a vegetable garden without a sunflower? I have to have them and this year, Ruby Eclipse is the first to flower. Unfortunately, their happy faces follow the southern sun so they can’t be seen from the house.
To see them, I have to go to the back of the garden and face North. The plants tower over me and I feel small here, and so much at home.