Pretty & Practical The Many Uses of Plants & Flowers
When people think of flowers, two words usually come to mind. Those two words are pretty and fragrant. While both are accurate descriptions, most plants and flowers actually have jobs to do if given the opportunity to do them.
The trouble is that most people don’t know what those jobs are—until now, that is.
Did you know you can use flowers and plants to keep the wasps and mosquitos at bay, to attract butterflies or to ward off snakes? Doing so is just nature’s way of combining work with pleasure. The question is will you do the same?
Chapter 1: Plants on Patrol
There are a number of varieties of flowers that can stand guard against a number of pests in your yard and garden. Most likely you already have several of these growing in your flower beds, so with a little bit of strategy when it comes to planting and placement of your flower pots, you can take advantage of the flower’s appearance and abilities.
The prolific and aromatic mint is one multi-tasking little plant.
Not only does it provide you with a steady source of leaves for making tea and beauty treatments, the many varieties of mint repel wasps.
If you’ve planted mint in and among flowers hoping to attract bees for the purpose of making honey or for pollination of fruits and vegetables, don’t worry. The tiny flowers some mint plants produce even attract bees.
Repelling wasps from your yard and garden is just one of the many uses for mint.
Lemon grass, which contains citronella, is a natural mosquito repellant. Placing large pots of lemon grass or planting it in the ground around the patio or pool makes outdoor entertaining enjoyable. The 4-6 foot tall plants also act as a privacy wall or barrier.
Chapter 2: Great Looks and Great Taste
When we think of plants as food, our thoughts quite naturally go to corn…tomatoes…potatoes…melons…berries….
I know, now I’m hungry, too. But did you know there are a number of plants and flowers you can eat that would be termed non-traditional food plants?
As you read through the following list of flowers you can consume and start thinking about all the different ways you can incorporate them into your meals, it is imperative that you only use flowers that have not been treated with any type of chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.). Even those that are washed ‘free’ of these substances may contain trace amounts that would be consumed by you.
You also need to keep in mind that edible flowers are not something you are going to make a meal out of. They are meant to add flavor and texture to salads, be used to enhance baked goods, flavor oils and vinegars, and to add flavor and flair to drinks and desserts.
Is your interest piqued? Let’s look at a few edible flowers and how to best use them…
Chrysanthemums: Did you know the petals can be eaten in salads and used to flavor vinegars and oils. When using chrysanthemums, be sure to blanch the petals before using them. The taste is peppery and somewhat bitter in a tangy sort of way, so they go well with salad using poppy seed or other creamy dressings.
Carnations: Surprisingly sweet tasting, carnation petals have been used to flavor salads and add both flavor and looks to cakes for years.
If you are a liqueur drinker—specifically chartreuse, you will be interested to know carnations are a major part of what gives it its taste.
Clover flowers: Both white and red clover flowers that have not yet begun to turn brown can be used to make tea. Clover flower tea has been used for centuries by Native Americans to sooth coughs and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.
Don’t try to digest the raw flower heads, though, as they are irritating to the digestive system.
Chapter 3: Lending a Helping Hand
There are literally hundreds of thousands—even millions—of species of plants out there; all of which serve varied and specific purposes.
We’ve already covered a few of these varied and specific purposes, but here’s another one for you…friendship. Or in the plant world, it’s called companion planting.
Companion planting is the act of planting certain types of plants together or within close proximity of one another so that the plants can draw from one another to grow, pollenate, produce and to protect each other from various pests and diseases.
Companion planting has been practiced for ages—even before it had been given a name. So the lesson to be learned here is this: If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.
Chapter 4: Paying it Forward
The first chapter of this book was devoted entirely to the ways in which plants can act against other members of nature, i.e. bugs and animals. And while there is no discounting the importance of having and using this knowledge, it is equally important to know and understand how plants can give back to Mother Nature.
‘Paying it forward’ may be the newest term used these days to describe sharing back a portion of what you have, it’s certainly not a new concept…to people or to plants.
Plants are essential for good health. Medical and research reports are released daily promoting yet one more finding that (drum roll, please) fresh fruits and vegetables offer major health benefits to the human body. In fact, we cannot live without the nutritional value they provide in terms of vitamins and minerals.
Many try to derive these same benefits from pills, potions and powders, but time and again the overwhelming evidence points to the fact that fruits and veggies are essential for keeping our bodies in top condition.
Plants equal life. A large percentage of animals are herbivores; meaning they eat only plants and cannot survive without them. We can even take this one step further by reminding ourselves that many of those herbivores (cows and chickens, for example) are also part of our food source. This means plants give life to animals which in turn feed us in order to keep us alive.
Even those animals we try to deter with some plants shouldn’t be deprived for good reasons.
Chapter 5: Giving Your Plants the TLC they Deserve
It is plain to see that plants and flowers are a whole lot more than something pretty to look at and smell. They are hard-working members of the intricate system we call nature. Flowers and plants cannot fulfill their potential to the fullest extent, however, without a little help from you and me.
The help we give them, though, needs to be truly beneficial. In other words, it needs to be as natural and non-invasive as possible. The following tips and suggestions should help you get the job done.
1-Use the information in this book for natural pest control.
2-Use the companion planting information in this book for optimal growth of your vegetables.
3-Thin plants after seeds germinate and break through the ground. It is better to have fewer healthy plants than more, but less healthy plants.
4-Deadhead your flowers to promote new growth and to keep plants looking their best. Removing dead and fading blooms and leaves also allows the healthy part of the plant to receive more
5-When fruit trees have set on their fruit, thin the fruit. I know it seems counter-productive, but removing up to one-third of the fruit will give you fewer, but larger, healthier fruit instead of dwarf-sized fruit that aren’t as healthy.
Healthy plants don’t just happen
Okay, be honest…how much pre-knowledge did you have before reading this book?
Hopefully you’ve gained a considerable amount of knowledge and information which will serve to make you a better and more conscientious gardener. Hopefully you now understand how plants work in nature to keep a healthy and harmonious balance you can enjoy participating in.