Happy Hen Farm


Just what is an ornamental anyway? Is an ornamental plant one that you can't or aren't supposed to eat? Are pansies ornamental? They certainly are beautiful, but you can also eat them. What about daylillies? Fiddleheads? Roses? You can eat those, too. Some plants such as Poke Weed can be eaten only after being thorougly cooked. Taste it any earlier and it's curtains for you. So perhaps the whole idea ornamental plants is based on your point of view and its level of toxicity.

In our garden some plants are truly ornamental because eating them would cause, at the very least, severe gastric distress. But beyond that the lines are blurry. In the spring we use lettuce as both an ornamental as well as a food plant. Our rosemary bushes help give form and structure to our raised sandstone beds all year long. Out back by the bees we have a wild planting of verbena, turks cap (which is supposedly edible -- we haven't tried), antique petunia, coreopsis, xexmenia and salvia leucantha. We don't eat them directly, but the bees use them as a nectar source that is eventually made into our honey.

So, ornamental or not? You be the judge. Here are a few shots of things not normally considered in an ornamental light.

And now a few things are are truly ornamental...

Passionflower before it was eaten down to the stems by Fritillary butterfly larvaPassion Flower

Bouquet D'Or Rosebuff beauty rose

Amsonia with one of our beesAmsonia with Honey Bee

Datura. This grew from seed that fell into the base of the potted lemon tree. Datura

Lantana. Some say that Lantana smells like tomcats, but it doesn't bother me.Lantana













The Antique Tulips are from our friends Joel and Karlyn who lived in a hundred year old farmhouse north of Dallas. When they moved back to California they kindly allowed us to dig up some of the antique tulips that grew in their yard. Tulips in Dallas must be planted fresh each year, but these come back year after year and do not require chilling. They spread through underground runners and the bulbs are brown and furry looking. We consider ourselves very lucky to have this heritage variety. As far as we know these are not available commercially, but High Country Gardens located in Santa Fe, New Mexico does sell something similar called 'wildflower tulips'. We are definitely going to try them out this spring.

Antique TulipsAntique Tulips

Chrysler Imperial Rose. My grandmother planted these in her yard and I grow them because they remind me of her. The Chrysler Imperial was introduced in 1952 and was used as a cross marketing tool for the car of the same name. It is now classified as an 'antique rose'.

Chrysler Imperial

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