Monday, May 21, 2012

Edible Ornamentals

My garden is too small to have a separate veg patch. Last year I decided to add my veggies in between my ornamental plants and I was happy how they blended in with my perennials. I'm tired of plants only looking good. In the last couple of years, I'm quite glad to see garden design trends here in Canada including plant material that have edible benefits, outside of a solitary vegetable patch hidden in the corner.
Strawberries in bloom, great ground cover.

If you're interested in adding edible ornamental alternatives that come back each year, here are many perennials and woody shrubs that I could think of here for my zone (5b, 6a). Offering visual interest and edible benefits for any front or back garden borders:

Hardy overwintering edibles:
  • Blueberries - fruit and wonderful fall colour
  • Gooseberries - fruit bearing in a leafy shrub border
  • Red and Black Currant - great bush for borders or informal hedging
Few more weeks....then....mmmm. :)
  • Allium - chives with tall texture and lovely purple flower tops
  • Strawberries - ever-bearing white flowers with red leaves in fall - great ground cover
  • Serviceberry Trees - white flowers, lovely edible berries and great fall leaf colour
  • Garlic Chives - white flowers and edible leaves
  • Asparagus - ferny foliage, spring harvest
  • Quince - beautiful flowers, great fruit
  • Elderberry - flowers and berries useful for cordials and sauces
  • Violets - flowers are edible, great for salad
  • Rose species (Rugosa and Villosa), rose hips for canning or tea
  • Mahonia - Oregon Grape, yellow flowers, glossy foliage and blue-black edible fruit
  • Lavender - herb uses 
  • Thyme - great ground cover

Here are some annual (non hardy) plants that add visual interest while providing edible qualities:
  • Carrots  - ferny foliage, great in clumps instead of rows
  • Nasturtium - flowers are edible, great for salad
  • Purple Ruffles Basil - great contrast colour and useful in cooking
  • Parsley - coarse ferny leaves
  • Cilantro - coarse ferny leaves
  • Red Russian Kale - leafy texture and attractive colour
  • Bright Light Swiss Chard - leafy texture with brilliant stems
  • Sweet Pea - sugar snaps, lovely flowers and great vine
  • Red-leafed lettuce - contrasting red foliage
  • Oregano - ground cover, purple pink flowers
  • Rosemary - rigid growth which look similar to lavender

I decided on more containers this year and will be adding nasturtium, sweet peas, cilantro, russian kale, swiss chard, red-leafed lettuce into my annual displays.  Their unique foliage colour, texture and growth habit camouflage the fact they are actually edible. At least this way you enjoy your garden more with fruitful yields, adding visual interest as well.

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