Zinnias & Marigolds
I don't think a yard is complete without a few flowers. I tend to go overboard, especially with Zinnias and Marigolds. These are my go-to annuals every year because they are so colorful, prolific, inexpensive, and easy to grow.
I sow thousands of these seeds every spring, everywhere I can find space. And I make a point to sow plenty near my vegetable patch, because they're great at attracting pollinating insects.
Zinnias and Marigolds will bloom all season long, and actually thrive when flowers are clipped. That means I get to cut beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers for inside my house, and it only makes the plants produce more blooms.
I think these flowers look especially stunning in autumn, too. A big cluster of French Marigolds provides almost the same visual effect as a traditional fall Mum does, so I forgo buying the mums and let my marigolds bloom happily until frost. It saves me money, and they look great framed with a hay bale and a warty heirloom squash! After the first hard freeze, I gather all the seed heads and lay them out in the greenhouse to dry through the winter. When planting season hits, I scratch up any bare spot I find and scatter these seeds over it. I stomp them in and within a few days, the seedlings are sprouting up everywhere! It's the circle of life--a flower lover's life, anyway.
I'm drawn to plants with a purpose. I like to grow things that have some sort of uniqueness to them: a great story, an unusual feature, a creative use. So, heirloom vegetables, edible flowers, and herbs make up the bulk of my cottage style garden. I also have a vegetable plot, berry patches, fruit trees, and herb and cutting flower beds. In maintaining all this, I strive to be as organic as possible by using techniques like companion planting, rotating my crops, and composting kitchen scraps and yard clippings. All this comes together to create a cleaner environment for my family, my livestock, and my gardens.