November 2013 Edible Landscaping

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Rita's Monthly Gardening Tips,  November 4, 2013

Edible Landscaping

What if you could have it all: Edibles to feed your body, beauty to feed your soul, and pollinator plants to bring nature to your doorstep? You CAN have it all with Edible landscaping.

Edible landscaping is the process of following the design principles of ornamental landscaping but strategically incorporating a variety of herbals and edibles.

The basic principles of landscape design:

  • Unity—attracts and holds attention.
  • Lines—a powerful design element that defines rooms and connects people to the landscape.
  • Form—includes the three-dimensional mass.
  • Texture—fine/coarse, heavy/light, thin/dense, and light/shade.
  • Color—gives the greatest appeal and evokes the greatest response.
  • Scale—evokes emotional connection and is closely related to color.
  • Balance—equilibrium on left and right sides.
  • Simplicity and Variety—work together to balance each other. Simplicity is a degree of repetition rather than constant change, creating unity. Variety is diversity and contrast in form, texture, and color, preventing monotony.
  • Emphasis—dominance and subordination of elements.
  • Sequence—the change or flow in form, texture, color, and size, giving a sense of movement or life.

A few examples of beautiful vegetables:

  • Lettuce—Monet couldn’t wish for a more beautiful palette of colors and shapes.
  • Spinach—this dark green edible goodness is just the right size to fill in the areas between herbs and flowers.
  • Swiss Chard—the Ruby Red and Rainbow varieties provide dramatic color.
  • Kale—crisp and healthy beauty in a variety of textures.
  • Scarlet Runner Beans—beautiful red flowers on a 6-foot-tall vine with edible pods.
  • Chili Peppers—they come in amazing varieties of color and shape and will spice up your landscape and your dinner.

Fruit at every level:

  • Ground Cover—strawberries look great nestled among flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
  • Vines—grapes can cover walls and fences while rewarding you with bunches of bite-size treats.
  • Berry bushes are handsome, do great in containers, and can be trellised to provide structural beauty and delightful morsels of deliciousness.
  • Dwarf fruit trees enhance form and emphasis in your landscape with fruit that gives the appearance of ornaments on a Christmas tree.
  • Taller fruit and nut trees provide shade, beauty, and food.

Almost any herb works in edible landscaping, including these fine examples:

  • Pineapple salvia with its lush green leaves scented of pineapple and exploding with red flowers from late summer into winter.
  • Lavender—a mainstay with its calming colors and fragrance.
  • Basil—try purple basil for a splash of color, fino verde for a lovely mounding shape, or Thai basil for a beautiful contrast in color with its green leaves and purple flowers.
  • Parsley—curled is gorgeous, and flat leaf is a great contrast to other plants with a larger or finer leaf texture.
  • Pineapple mint—nicely contrasting green and white leaves with a crinkly texture. Looks great in a container.

Add some edible flowers:

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis): The mildly peppery-flavored petals create a beautiful orange touch to a green salad.
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus): Flowers in a riot of colors with a distinct peppery flavor.
  • Borage (Borago officinalis): Heavenly blue flowers with a taste of cucumber.
  • Dianthus (Dianthus chinensis): The flowers, which come in shades of white, pink, and red, have a clove scent and sweet edible nectar.
  • Viola (Viola tricolor): The multicolored flowers look gorgeous as a garnish.
  • Bachelor Buttons (Centaura cyanus): A true blue touch of beauty to make your dinner dazzling.

And show a little love to our hard-working pollinators by planting some of these beautiful examples of nectar and/or pollen delight:

  • Salvias come in many colors and sizes and are much loved by bees and hummingbirds.
  • Eriogonum is a California native and is the go-to plant for many pollinators.
  • Cupheas come in a variety of pinks, purples, reds, and orange, also loved by the bees.
  • Agastache leaves have a nice licorice scent, with beautiful flowers in purple or light orange that create pure bee bliss.
  • Rudbeckia has bright yellow petals, some with dark contrasting centers, which the butterflies love.
  • Gaillardia radiates warm sunset colors and attracts butterflies.
  • Echinacea is another flower that butterflies love, and it comes in lovely shades of purple, red, or white.

Fall in love with your garden all over again with edible landscaping!