12 Reasons to Plant Flowers and Flowering Herbs in Your Garden
I didn't take flowers seriously when I first started growing a vegetable garden.  I only planted the foods I wanted to eat.  But over the years, I have learned that flowers are actually necessary to have in your garden!  
Planting flowers and flowering herbs in your garden offers a multitude of benefits beyond just adding beauty. Here are twelve reasons to include them in your garden:

1. Pollination Support: Flowers, especially those rich in nectar and pollen, attract essential pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. 
Flowers produce nectar and pollen, essential food sources for pollinators. By planting a diverse range of flowers that bloom at different times of the year, you can provide a continuous food supply for these important creatures. For example, early bloomers like crocuses and late-season flowers like asters ensure that pollinators have resources throughout their active seasons. These pollinators are crucial for the reproduction of many plants, including vegetables and fruits in your garden. When I figured this out, my garden production soared!

2. Pest Control: Flowering herbs and certain flowers attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which help control garden pests naturally by preying on aphids, caterpillars, and other harmful insects.
For instance, dill and fennel flowers attract parasitic wasps, while marigolds are known to repel nematodes and other harmful insects. 
Incorporating plants like lavender, yarrow, and sunflowers can turn your garden into a haven for beneficial insects, creating a balanced ecosystem that reduces the need for chemical pesticides and promotes healthy plant growth.  It's so fun to watch the diversity in your garden ecosystem!

3. Color and Beauty: Flowers add vibrant colors and visual interest to your garden, creating a more inviting and enjoyable space. The diverse shapes, sizes, and hues of flowers can transform a plain garden into a picturesque landscape.  Planting a variety of annuals and perennials, early bloomers and late bloomers ensures that your garden will have a continuous display of color for the whole growing season. 
4. Fragrance: Many flowers and flowering herbs, such as lavender, rosemary, and jasmine, emit delightful scents that enhance the sensory experience in your garden, making it a pleasant place to relax and unwind.  The beauty and aroma pull me into the garden throughout the day.  They just make me feel good!

5. Culinary Flowers: Flowers like nasturtiums, pansies, borage, and marigolds can be used to garnish salads, desserts, and beverages, adding a burst of color and unique flavors. Adding the beautiful colors and flavors of flowers to your meals enhances the whole experience and gives you amazing health benefits as well!

6. Flavorful Herbs: Flowering herbs such as basil, thyme, and chives not only add beauty but also provide fresh, aromatic leaves and flowers that can be used in cooking to enhance the flavor of your dishes. These are my favorites and I use them almost daily.  There is so much you can do to enliven your food and adding fresh herbs is the best!

7. Herbal Remedies: Many flowering herbs have medicinal properties. For example, calendula flowers can be used in soothing salves, chamomile flowers can be brewed into calming teas, and echinacea flowers are known for their immune-boosting properties. I love fresh healing teas and I dry the herbs for later use as well.  I love making all sorts of DIY remedies - tinctures, salves, lotions, sprays, etc. 

8. Aromatherapy: The essential oils and fragrances from flowering herbs like lavender and lemon balm can be used for aromatherapy, promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving sleep quality.   I love walking through my garden, brushing the aromatic plants and breathing in their beautiful aromas.  Bringing these in the house, putting them in a vase, steeping them in tea, or boiling them for the aroma that is released into the air are great ways to utilize them.

9. Nitrogen Fixation: Certain flowering plants, such as clover and lupines, are capable of fixing nitrogen in the soil, enriching it and promoting healthier growth for surrounding plants. Plant rotation is key, and cover crops can also be used to improve soil fertility and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

10. Biodiversity: Adding a variety of flowers and herbs to your garden increases biodiversity, which enhances the resilience of your garden ecosystem, making it more robust and less susceptible to pests and diseases.  You can create a balanced and healthy environment in your own garden which reduces pest and disease issues, and encourages strong plants.

11. Learning Opportunities: Growing flowers and flowering herbs provides a hands-on way to learn about plant biology, pollination, and the importance of ecosystems. It’s a great way to introduce children and adults alike to the wonders of nature. Every year is a new experiment that builds upon the last.  I love trying new techniques and growing new plants.

12. Therapeutic Gardening: The act of planting, tending, and enjoying flowers can have significant mental health benefits. Gardening is known to reduce stress, improve mood, and provide a sense of accomplishment and connection to nature.  When I am in my garden, I am totally relaxed and the repetitive actions of weeding and caring for my plants does so much for my mental health. 

Examples of Flowers and Flowering Herbs to Consider:

- Marigolds: Bright, pest-repellent, and edible.
- Lavender: Beautiful, fragrant, and great for relaxation.
- Basil: Versatile in the kitchen with attractive flowers for pollinators.
- Echinacea (Coneflower): Stunning, medicinal, and attracts pollinators.
- Thyme: Compact, aromatic, and perfect for culinary use.
- Sunflowers: Tall, cheerful, and excellent for attracting birds and bees.

Incorporating these plants into your garden can enrich your gardening experience and provide numerous benefits to your garden's health and beauty.

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