I’ve always loved having edibles in my garden. It isn’t a new idea, cottage gardens in Europe traditionally combined growing vegetables for the family along with table flowers, due to the small spaces most people had in those times. And cottage gardening continues to be one of the most popular gardening styles, because of the charm and possibilities that those type of gardens hold. I suppose there is something satisfying about an ornamental edible garden that touches on our needs for survival, but acknowledges our need for beauty. And so it perseveres, but edible gardens for beauty lost their appeal in the new century. Fortunately, with the new awareness of “green” living, and the DIY movement in design, gardeners are looking at their spaces in new ways. We don’t plant any longer within a structure of “rules”. We plant, and design, for that matter, leaning towards trying things that are new, pushing the envelope a bit, and being unique.
Ornamental edible gardens are becoming hot… with small spaces common and the desire to grow at least some of our own food, we need to see this more!
Some easy guidelines for growing ornamental edibles?
- Remember to balance edibles that have a short growing season with edibles that are evergreen, or at least last all season. You don’t want a big hole in your garden when the lettuce is down for the summer.
- Edibles can include herbs, veggies, fruits and some flowers too!
- Remember texture is very important in an edible garden.
- Don’t forget that the color of fruit or veggies affect the design as well. Hot peppers look great in glossy green, but add a pop of red when they mature!
- Remember the basics… shade plants in shade gardens, sun in sun gardens. That having been said, most edible gardens will do better with 6 hours or more of sun a day. Some edibles, such as lettuce and some herbs, prefer afternoon shade. Plan accordingly.
- Watch for pests, and treat as necessary. However, integrating herbs into your edible design can actually help minimize some pest problems.
Some ideas for ornamental edible plants?
- Red and green leaf lettuce.
- Other greens, such as red swiss chard and celery.
- Edible flowers such as roses, day lilies, pansies, nasturtiums and honeysuckle
- Fruit trees and bushes. Blueberry blushes are especially handsome plants.
Still not convinced an ornamental edible garden can be beautiful?
Cabbage and tulips!
A pretty lettuce border.
Herbs used in a formal design.
Cabbage in a boxwood border.
Herbs in a beautiful combination border by Rosalind Creasy.Image Credits: Rosalind Creasy, Paradisexpress, BHG, Roses and Rust, Violettes Des Cabbage, Rosalind Creasy