Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Edible Landscaping

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.

rosemary Flowering rosemary

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.)

chives Chive blossoms

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.

swiss chard Bright lights Swiss chard (sometimes called silverbeet)

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.


  1. Lovely ideas and pictures here. I'm about to embark on the huge task of fixing up my garden. It's currently a mini forest, but I'm hoping some clever planting this year will bring good results next year. Loved the sound of the herbs especially. :)

  2. I've never seen rosemary in bloom!

    Every year, I resolve to do a better job with my garden. These are some great suggestions.

  3. Fellow A to Z'er stopping by. So glad my Surprise Me! button brought me to your blog. What a great and informative post!

  4. Tundiel, there should be plenty of plants that overwinter nicely in Wales -- good luck!

    Jenny, rosemary can be a bit of a challenge around here. I dig it up and bring it inside each fall and then replant it in the garden in the spring. Probably should just keep it in a moveable container, but do I? No.

    Welcome, Kris! I stopped by your blog -- what fun!

  5. I planted some strawberries last year in an area where I wanted some ground cover and that worked great. Never actually tasted a strawberry--the birds were too quick!

    Love the photo of the chives--good idea! I might try that this year.

  6. I love gardens, but haven't had the time to take care of one for a couple of years. You've inspired me to do something about that. I wonder what would motive Hubby to take on the task...

  7. Stumbled on your blog ... love the photos!

    I'll second the folks at Edible Landscaping for great edible plants ... Stark Bros is a good place for fruit and nut trees as well, especially if you're in the south or east.

    Another great plant is the daylily -- it tastes like lettuce, you can eat the whole thing, and it's hardy to zone 1, which is pretty amazing.

    Off to read more of your blog!

  8. Michelle, I recently saw strawberries planted as ground cover at an office complex. What a great idea! (And a good way to thin out the raging strawberry bed, too.)

    Kathi, I like the idea of having hubby do the work. ; )

    Thanks for stopping by, EdibleLandscapeDesign, and for the information about daylilies! That is amazing.