When designing with edible plants, my goal is to create a beautiful garden that doesn’t look like a ‘vegetable patch.’ I use edible plants in the same ways that I use ‘regular’ garden plants. By incorporating a mix of edible trees, shrubs, and groundcovers I can create a sequence of spaces and frame hardscape areas like patios, pavilions, decks, meditation nooks.
I rely on deciduous and evergreen perennial edibles that live for years or decades. Many deciduous fruit and nut trees thrive in the North Valley. They can provide the shade, screening, blossoms, and fall colors of typical deciduous landscape trees such as magnolias with the added bonus of fresh fruit. Evergreen trees such as citrus and olives provide year-round green, fragrant blossoms, and, of course, fruit.
Edibles that serve as shrubs include evergreen types such as bamboo (roots are edible), tall rosemaries, and dwarf citrus and deciduous types such as blueberries, rhubarb, and roses (the petals
make a lovely addition to salads!). I use shrubs to define spaces within a garden, provide screening, and as a backdrop for art.
Herbs like creeping rosemaries, thyme, oregano, and chamomile and perennials such as daylilies and strawberries can be used as groundcovers in place of standard plants like ivy or junipers to soften the edges of walkways, spill over walls, help suppress weeds, cool ground temperatures, and prevent erosion.
By using perennial plants in the place of traditional landscape plants, I can create a garden that looks good all year and functions on many levels with places to relax, play, and entertain. It can even include a vegetable patch! But it won’t remind you of a farm.
Part of the fun is being able to graze on your home grown delicacies as you wander through your personal Eden.