Sure, flowers are pretty. But it’s a lot of work keeping them weeded, pruned and deadheaded, fertilized and watered. Why not spend that time tending plants that are beautiful and that you can eat, too?
Okay, so some people rip out their lawns and turn the front yard into something resembling a small truck farm. This is one option, and frankly, not a terrible one. If that’s your thing, I say go for it. Vegetable gardens can be quite beautiful, especially if the various plants are arranged as in a landscape bed with plenty of hardscape like trellises, rock walls, pathways, and maybe even a bench or funky wheelbarrow.
But if turning your yard into a big veggie patch is not in the least appealing, there are alternatives.
If you are lucky to live in tropical climes, zones 9 or 10, you have tons of options: citrus, pineapples, figs, etc. But if you live in hardier zones, there are still good options.
Many herbs are very attractive, with or without flowers. There are lots of varieties of thyme that make terrific ground covers. I especially like the variegated lemon thyme. Rosemary can be formed into topiaries and sports sweet blue flowers for three or four weeks. The dusty plum of purple sage is stunning set against the green of other foliage. Likewise with purple basil (and it’s beautiful served with yellow or orange tomatoes, too.)
Alliums like chives, onions, and garlic boast spiky texture and pom pom flowers, while the airy fronds of fennel are a nice addition to any border.
Plenty of bushes offer edible fruit. Cranberries, goji berries (which are hardier than you might think), gooseberries, currants (red and black), hardy kiwi, grapes, elderberries (for lovely preserves and wine), and bush cherries are all nice yard accents.
And then there are the vegetables that are just too pretty to hide. The vermillion stems and large leaves of rhubarb, the various eye-catching colors of bright lights chard stems, the fluffy ferns of asparagus ferns, and the somber clusters of horseradish leaves are good examples. Mustard greens are available in many colors, including a gorgeous deep maroon.
Nasturtiums taste slightly of cabbage
Still want flowers? Many are edible. Pansies, violas, and nasturtiums are common flowers that add both beauty and spice to salads. Roses provide rose hips after the petals have dropped, chock full of vitamin C and nice for jelly.
And if you’re really feeling adventurous, quinoa is a beautiful landscape plant, with five-to-six foot feathery seed heads – and available in yellow, orange, purple, red and white.
Check out Edible Landscaping for more ideas and to buy some of these goodies.