Verbena bonariensis

vb forest 1Crops.  Lots of crops. Most people plant fruit and vegetables in their vegetable garden. But judging from these shots you would swear I was growing flowers only.

These are verbena bonariensis. A marvellous tall but stiff plant from the verbena family. And from Buenos Aires in Argentina (hence bonariensis).  They ought not to survive hard winters here in the French mountains. But these particular plants have adapted brilliantly.

The plan is for them to hug the thin bed at the very top of the potager – getting protection from the gorgeous stone wall behind. And throwing up their tall (one metre at least) purple flowers for a long season of colour and interest.

They self seed like mad.  And it saves me a lot of work. In the past I would dutifully collect the seeds in autumn and then sow them in trays in spring. I would try and take cuttings (never worked well.)  vbs in vase

But my potting shed in spring is a place groaning with crops. And taking time and effort to get some glorified ground cover plant to grow and thrive just seemed like a lot of work.

erag maneNow I let them do it themselves. The soil is good in the potager. And every year I see the darling little seedlings pop up in between the Swiss chard, the cabbage, the beans.  When I was neat and fussy and had more time, I would weed them out.

I give them a year of growth in the good stuff, and then come next spring, I lift them up and move them about.  My plan is to put more of them in the pool bank where the eragrostis is growing like a mane. It is clearly crying out for a bit of variety – mono cultures are never a good look.

It looks like I have dumped a bottle of bleach on the bank. Very pale.

tamedAnd I need more in the little narrow garden just in front of the house – the step garden.

I have pruned off a lot of these flowers today; even I can have a surfeit of purple in the potager. But there will be plenty more as soon as my back is turned.

And naturally I stuffed lots of the flowers in a vase. Even I can’t just blithely lob good flowers on the compost heap.

But right now it feels as though I have tamed the great beast that is the lower vegetable bed.

vbs tamed