Who likes what? Inspiration for this rainy and cool spring.


While it has been a little cool and wet, I have had some extra time to plot out some new combinations I want to try in the garden. I love to mix up edible and ornamental plants, and coming up with some new ideas is always a creative part of the garden process I enjoy

People often ask me about companion planting, with the goal of learning more about what plants keep pests off of what other plants. I usually reply by saying that a mixed garden, with flowers and herbs interspersed among the vegetables generally helps confuse insect pests and also helps attract beneficial insects who are in search of pollen. Here are some combinations that I regularly create just because they work so well. Maybe as an exercise in trying something new, you could try your hand at one or two of these combos and then come up with some of your own. It is a great way to study plants, contrast, colors, and texture in the garden.

  • Verbena bonariensis, California poppies and lacinato kale - We do this often in the demonstration garden at Red Wagon Plants because the Verbena bonariensis is self seeding, along with some California poppies, and it is just so simple to throw in a few kale plants and see the magic unfold all summer long. The poppies bloom first and are a cheery, airy note floating beneath and alongside the dark green, almost black foliage of the kale. Later on, in late summer, the kale is bigger, the poppies are finished blooming and the verbena kicks into high gear with wiry stems waving high above the kale; delicate purple blossoms nod above the mature, gnarly textured leaves of the kale.

Some other favorites include:

  • Rainbow chard, gem marigolds, and lunchbox peppers

  • Opopeo amaranth,nicotiana elata, northern sea oats and redbor kale

  • Green butter lettuce, curly parsley, and calendula

  • Tokyo Bekana mustard, chervil, green oak lettuce, pansies and alyssum

  • Bleu Solaize leeks, Hungarian bread seed poppy, and rebor kale

  • Datura, African blue basil, and dusty miller