I'm a born book-a-holic, yet I'm tryingggg to control my urge to spend money right now, and this primarily applies to the purchase of garden-related books.
Some of the books I've most enjoyed from the library include lists of plants that are beneficial when planted near each other, otherwise known as companion plants. I need a list I can mark with notations in ink and highlight with markers, so back to the computer I came, to find some resources from which to glean...and print.
I found, of course, myriad links! Thankfully, the concept of companion planting is not new and is being implemented by many gardeners. In encouraging diversity in a garden environment, flowers, herbs, and vegetables can populate a shared space with many benefits to each, not to mention the boost they provide in attracting beneficial insects and pollinators.
A related concept is the potager, or French Kitchen garden concept, which also features the advantageous and beautiful combining of edible plants and flowers. The subject of potager garden is what first led me to the discovery of one of the blogs on my blogroll...a favorite, of course...La Ferme de Sourrou. It's a treasure trove of potager discovery! If you love potagers, or if you're curious about them, you'll also not want to miss a site I just discovered today, called Everything French Gardening. What a beautiful article about companion planting and the role it's played in European gardens for such a long time now. You'll have SUCH a hard time leaving that page.... :)
The more we grow things, the more I anticipate the garden as an living community, humming with every sort of insect and pollinator, birds, butterflies, toads, turtles, lizards. I love to while away time working or observing growing things and the worlds that are around, beneath, and within them. It seems like each plant is the backbone of a robust parade of living creatures seen and unseen, and I love being a private audience as ants build civilizations, lizards court, and flying insects explore. (I'll pass on romanticizing about the poisionous snakes, though :))
I've had my fill of sterile landscaping and uneaten lawns tightly clipped and preserved with applications of chemicals and weeded with Roundup. We don't do that ourselves, but it's prevalent in our community. I suppose the older I've become, the more child-like my preferences have become...sort of a coming full circle to the wonder of childhood and its penchant for messy woodlands and riotous gardens rather than perfectly spherical boxwoods in wood mulch with nary a creature found hiding.
There are many things I look so forward to when we can plant next year, and one of those is exploring the lists of companion plants, especially since we hope to have bees by then, both mason bees and honeybees. I want pollinators to see our plants, and hum with glee at the banquet before them! Perusing these lists fills in my wish list of the necessities with unexpected possibilities of additional herbs and flowers and bee-loving plants. It gives me ideas for new pairings of ingredients in recipes, seasonings to play with, bouquets to fill Mason jars on the window ledge, flavorings for vinegars and pickles, bold and playful salad amendments.
Anyway, without further ado, here's only one of many, many lists to be found on a most basic of internet searches: Alphabetical List of Companion Plants
In our experiments creating our own backyard grocery store (for that's what a garden should be, right?), it's made all the more fun by learning to "play with our food." The addition of companion plants are not only beneficial to plant health, but can include so many combinations that any simple plot can become a diverse Wonderland...