Brittan Browning, owner and lead gardener at Gilmer Farms, shares a list of her favorite multi-purpose foliage to fill out your garden beds and spring bouquets.
Blooms are the key ingredient for a cutting garden, but growing pros know to never neglect the foliage that make up the foundation of an arrangement. “When growing flowers for cutting, you will want to grow more foliage than flowers simply because foliage is the base and largest proportion of any arrangement,” Browning says. As your plan out your beds this spring, consider cultivating some of Browning’s favorite multi-use foliage to complement both your floral arrangements and your culinary adventures.
“These herbs are all easy to grow from seed, but if you worry about your green thumb you can find seedlings at almost every nursery, and transplant after all risk of frost is past,” she shares.
5 Spring Herbs to Fill Your Flower Beds
Depending on your taste and aesthetic, there are both green and purple varieties of basil that work well for floral and culinary use. For green varieties, we love Mrs. Burns lemon basil, cinnamon basil and good old-fashioned Genovese (which makes spectacular pesto). For a bit of color, we’re trying Aromatto and Amethyst Improved as well as the new Cardinal basil which produces fluffy purple blooms on green stalks for a brilliant post-seed presentation. *
*Be sure to pinch off the flowers if you plan to eat your basil season-round—otherwise the leaves can become tough.
Mint’s brilliant color makes it a great herb for any garden. But rambling lots beware. “Mint spreads through underground runners, and can become a thug if left unsupervised,” says Browning. She suggests planting mint in a bed where spreading is a non-issue, or in a large pot which will keep it contained and luscious.
Lemon balm has beautiful foliage for arrangements, and can also be dried to make tea, peppered into a variety of dishes or even used to add aroma to homemade soaps.
Many are unfamiliar with this plant, but according to Browning orach is a warm season alternative to spinach. “It comes in beautiful colors, grows extremely well in hot weather and is tolerant of the alkaline and saline soils predominant in Utah’s climate,” she says. “It also grows quite tall—I’ve had plants grow to six feet or more, making it a great option to screen out unsightly views inthe garden.” The self-reseeding plant comes in both red and green varieties: we suggest Copper Plume, Ruby Red or Caramel Apple for a mix of red and green.
A cool-season plant, cerinthe has interesting foliage and dainty flowers. The green is easily grown from seed, since the seeds are large and simple to start. “We love growing honeywort for thee early season when our other foliage is not yet big enough to cut.”
Kiwi Blue is a common cerinthe variety, along with Pride of Gibraltar.
Get more gardening tips from Browning and other pros.