William Morris, the English artist and designer, once famously said:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. The same concept can be applied to your garden as well, as many plants have a variety of different uses that not everyone knows about.
Here are 5 suggestions to get you started on growing plants that are useful as well as attractive:
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera by sarangib via pixabay.com
Aloe Vera looks fantastic, either in a pot in a sheltered sunny spot or indoors if you live in a cold climate, or set in a gravel bed with other dramatic spiky plants for a sculptural effect. Its juice is reputed to have many medicinal qualities and is in my experience very good for immediate first aid on burns, scalds, and bruises and also for soothing itching skin – this article can tell you a little more about that.
Flowers of Feverfew by Zeynel Cebeci via Wikimedia Commons
Feverfew has pretty daisy-like flowers that look cheerful and will perk up any flowerbed or border. They also grow well in pots on a terrace. Their secret is that the leaves contain a natural painkiller that when chewed is particularly good at dealing with headaches. My mother always has feverfew growing in her garden and as children we were never given paracetamol or aspirin, just told to pick and chew a feverfew leaf!
Lavender growing in Provence by Intermittentgardener via Wikimedia Commons
Lavender is beautiful and has a wonderful scent. That alone should be enough to ensure its place in any garden! But it can also be used to repel mosquitoes, as discussed in this article whilst being popular with other wildlife you might want to encourage such as bees. Plus you can harvest the lavender buds, dry them and make your own lavender bags to have the lovely scent with you all year round.
Butterfly and Buddleia by John Winfield via Wikimedia Commons
Buddleia comes in a variety of different colours – white, blue and purple are the most common. It is incredibly hardy and easy to grow – it will often self-seed and grow in the most unlikely of places such as half way up a building or between train tracks. So even the most inexperienced of gardeners should be able to nurture and maintain a buddleia bush. The flowers are striking and pretty and greatly loved by butterflies – so much so that one of its folk names in England is “butterfly bush”. If you want to attract more wildlife to your garden, then this should be a top planting choice.
Nasturtium by gabrielemlink via piaxabay.com
The nasturtium (proper name Tropaeolum) grows well in flowerbeds, pots or hanging baskets and with its bright, fiery flowers looks wonderful. It also tastes wonderful! Both the leaves and flowers are edible, with a slightly peppery taste and will add flavour and great visual appeal to a salad. They are high in Vitamin C and lutein, so will be as good for your body as they are for your tastebuds! More details can be found in this Wikipedia article.
Do you have any favourite plants that are useful as well as attractive? Please share them in the Comments on the right of this article!
An interesting article. I love lavender. I tried Earl Grey tea with lavender the other day and rather liked it. It was a tea bag but I thought I would try putting some lavender in with a pot of tea and see what it tastes like. I have also tried lavender scones at a Lavender Farm and plan to make some of these one day. There were all sorts of products containing lavender at the Lavender Farm showing what a versatile and useful plant it is.