By Paul James
Years ago it was called edible landscaping. Now it’s termed foodscaping, and basically it refers to the practice of planting edibles in and among ornamentals. It’s great for folks who don’t want to maintain a traditional veggie or herb garden, but love the idea of growing and harvesting fresh produce. And here are some suggestions for putting the practice into practice.
Love parsley? Me too! So why not use parsley as a border plant? It looks great, tastes great, and if it bolts, that’s hardly a bad thing because its flowers are beautiful. The same goes for sage, from the standard blue-gray version to the tri-color or golden varieties (keep in mind that the hugely popular ornamental Salvias, both annual and perennial, are members of the sage family). Chives make a great border plant as well, and they produce gorgeous blue flowers in late spring. Even lettuce –especially the red-leaved varieties – or mustard or Bok choy work well, if only for a few weeks in spring and again in fall.
In a mixed flower bed, consider adding an eggplant or two. The purple-tinged foliage is beautiful, and the fruit hanging on the plant is a real conversation piece when grown alongside flowering annuals and perennials. Ditto peppers, beans, even squash and determinate tomatoes. And for the back of the border, why not a row of corn or the fernlike foliage of asparagus? And for fun and fantastic flavor, how about sticking a few basil plants here and there?
Finally, consider blueberries as a substitute for more familiar shrubs. They’re great-looking, offer great fall foliage, and produce tasty fruit.
I could go on and on with suggestions, but you get the idea. And for even more ideas, check out articles and books by Rosalind Creasy (an old friend of mine, whose edible landscapes in California are phenomenal and pictured here), and Brie Arthur, whose book The Foodscape Revolution will be published next month.