I have never kept the fact that I detest petunias and marigolds a secret. In my opinion, if flowers were people, petunias and marigolds would be the annoying Hollywood stars. People who think that they are super important and don't have time for the rest of us "little people". Like Hollywood stars, petunias and marigolds generally thrive in groups and can't hold it together on their own and they crowd out anything and everything in their paths. People can't seem to get enough of them. It isn't that they are not colorful and don't perform like they should, it is just that they are everyone's number one go to flower. Why is that? They both smell...awful. Petunias are sticky and attract slugs and marigolds need a constant dead-heading to look good. I think all flowers have their place in the garden, but in my garden, neither of these two would ever get the limelight! That spot is reserved for what I consider to be the 5 most underused plants in the garden.
# 5- Godetia
If petunias and marigolds are the Hollywood Stars, godetia would definately be like the girl/boy next door. They are tough and beautiful and they are not the type of flower to invade the space of other flowers. They mind their own business and sit quietly in the garden until the day that they decide to bloom and then all of the sudden...BAM!!... they are now stopping the show! Everyone wants to know what they are and how they can get their hands on some.
#4- Iceland Poppies
I am not just picking this one because they are native to Iceland....the country of my dreams, I really, genuinely think that this flower could be more used in the garden! Iceland Poppies, if they were people, would be that cousin that is the same age as you that comes and stays for a few weeks in the summer and while they are visiting, you feel happy and carefree. When they go away, you are sad, but you know that they will be back next year and the advetures will pick up right where they left off.
Okay, okay, I realize that the other name for this flower is pot marigold, but to me, it looks nothing like a marigold, the marigold probably wishes it could be as cool as the calendula! They are so bright and cheerful and they have been around for forever but best of all, they can be used in making homemade lotions and salves and soap that are really soft and sweet on the skin. Like the grandmothers in our lives, they are useful, constant, and up and alert from early morning until late in the evening.
Quite literally, nicotianas are the real stars in the garden! Their happy little star shaped flowers have a faint smell that is wonderful. They are also some of the most beautiful shades of colors. My favorite is the lime green, chartreuse one. Nicotiana, if it were a person, would probably be the best friend. The friend that you don't have to spend every day with because they don't need to be doted on constantly, and you always know where you stand with them.
By far, the most underused plant in the garden is the grand nigella. I can't believe when people I know, who are gardeners themselves, have never even heard of these beauties! They, unfortunately have turned into what they call, a garden antique and you generally don't see them around at all unless they are on some old homestead struggling for life in a corner somewhere. They deserve better! They are beautiful, bold, and absolutely unique not only in petal but also in foliage. No other flower comes close to it. They have a unique and mysterious look about them, like they know other lands. They are like a foreign exchange student, sharing their cultural beauty as well as soaking up and complimenting all those they come in contact with.
People, I beg of you, try one or two of these flowers in your garden. Replace the petunias and marigolds. If you need seeds, I probably have a couple hundred or so. Let me help you help yourself.