Guest Author - Hellie T.
If you have a small space and most of us do - then growing vegetables amongst your flowers is an ideal way of getting more flowers and fresh veggies.
It is what cottage gardeners have been doing for centuries.
By growing climbing veggies you can make use of your arches, trellis, obelisks, arbours, walls, rustic poles or bamboo canes and give your garden, yard, or balcony a whole new look.
Runner beans were brought to England in the late sixteenth century and became fashionable in Victorian Gardens as purely ornamental plants. Look out some of the older varieties. They can be harvested from August to late October and the plants will reach 6-7'or 1.8-2.1m.
They can also be grown in big pots with canes made into a wigwam to provide space to climb. They grow very quickly and for that reason children find them fun to grow.
Runner beans have bright red, white and all shades of pink flowers. If you are growing them for the beans as well as the flowers then make sure they have good rich soil and water them every evening. If you want early flowers and beans then sow in pots in a greenhouse or windowsill propagator in April and plant in the garden about mid May, when you are sure there will be no more frosts.
You can also grow old fashioned tall peas. Look out for the purple podded ones, They will usually grow to only 5ft or 1.5m and have purple and white flowers, purple pods and yummy green peas inside ! There is nothing more satisfying than picking your own vegetables in the cool of a summer's evening.
There are yellow or purple podded climbing French beans which can be harvested from July to late September. They grow to about 6ft or 1.8m. They need a sunny spot sheltered from the wind and like runner beans appreciate a daily watering in the evening. Plant them out only when all danger of frost has passed.
Climbing melons, gourds, squashes, marrows and courgettes can all be trailed up supports. Make sure you do not buy the smaller bush varieties - check the seed packet before you buy. They come in a variety of colours, shapes and textures. The gourds can be dried and painted as decorations.
You can also grow climbing outdoor cucumbers which are rather fun. They need to be grown really on a trellis or you can use the plastic netting supported by canes as they need to be tied in firmly.
Have a look in your local garden shop/centre and see what is available. Growing vegetables amongst the flowers adds interest and colour to your English Garden. Don't forget that you can get trailing tomatoes that look good when planted in pots and hanging baskets.
Enjoy your garden!