Edible Landscape

By Robin Sweetser

Harvesting is in full swing and gardeners are enjoying the fruits of their labors. If you wish you had room for more edibles, take another look around your yard.

There are many creative ways to sneak more edible plants into your landscaping without sacrificing good looks.

Beautiful Enough to Eat

If you have room for another shrub or two try planting highbush blueberries. These tidy shrubs have pretty bell-like flowers in the spring, tasty fruit in the summer, fall foliage colors ranging from gold to deep red, and twisty branches with interesting bark for winter interest making them an all season delight.

If you are looking for a flowering tree consider planting a dwarf apple, peach, pear, plum, or cherry tree. There are lots of dwarf trees to choose from that will give you beautiful blossoms and delicious fruit. If space is tight, try an espalier.

It can be trained to grow along a wall, fence, or against the side of the house. I recently visited a garden that had alternating pears and apples growing up the front of the house. The homeowner says she can pick the fruit from her bedroom window!

Brambles are easy to grow and make great hedges. They need full sun but will still bear a reasonable amount of fruit in light shade. Raspberries are available in many colors including red, gold, black, and purple. There are thornless varieties of raspberries and blackberries that make picking much easier.

Alpine strawberries are better behaved than their traditional counterparts. They do not send runners all over the place but grow as neat little mounds instead. They blossom and bear a large flush of fruit in the spring and continue to repeat blossoming and fruiting throughout the growing season. The plants make a tidy edging plant for flower beds. Kids love picking these tiny treasures; even though the berries are small they pack a lot of flavor. Take a morning walk with bowl in hand and collect some for your breakfast cereal, if the kids haven’t already eaten them all.

A Feast for the Eyes

You can sneak some vegetables into the flower border as well. ‘Bright Lights’ or ‘Rainbow’ chard have beautiful yellow, gold, and red stalks and veins; red-leaved, bronze, or freckled lettuces such as ‘Lollo Rossa’, ‘Bronze Arrowhead’, and ‘Flashy Troutback’ are very attractive plants; and ‘Red Russian’ kale has blue-green leaves with red veins and edges. All add interesting foliage colors and textures to the garden.

If climbing vines are needed to act as a screen or cover an arbor, try kiwi or grapes. They may take a few years to reach fruiting size but it will be worth the wait. If you want a quick cover, pole beans will do the job, giving you flowers to enjoy and awesome beans for dinner. For extra color try yellow ‘Golden Gate’, speckled ‘Rattlesnake’, or purple Italian heirloom bean ‘Trionfo Violetto’.

Taste-full Landscaping

You get the idea. It is okay to mix things up. Vegetables look great planted among the ornamentals and need not be banished to the back yard. Think edibles to make your landscape productive and pretty.

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