Don’t hesitate to grow edibles with ornamentals

Whereas fads come and go, edible landscaping is by no means a fad, rather here to stay, as more and more gardeners are getting on the edible landscaping bandwagon. Besides, it makes sense to have a garden not just for aesthetic reasons, but to let the plants play a dual role: ornamental, as well as for consumption in some form or the other, thus save money and natural resources, too.  

The trend, therefore, to incorporate edible plants in the landscape can be very gratifying and exciting, for nature has given us many fruit-bearing trees or shrubs and vegetables which are pretty enough to be either intermingled with evergreens and flowers or as specimen plants. For example, a pomegranate tree or a shrub, as the case maybe, bears lovely scarlet red flowers in early summer; though the shrubs we have are unable to provide us much fruit perhaps due to lack of pollination, but when in bloom, they are truly spectacular. Our gooseberry bushes, on the other hand, are not only very attractive, but produce ample berries for us to enjoy plus share with the birds as well!

Not enough can be said about the passion fruit vine we planted years back which still comes back year after year in more places than I can imagine, climbing to any available vegetation with the aid of tendrils;  needless to say, each summer I look forward to the fragrant purple flowers followed by dangling edible fruits. Speaking of climbing plants, although not a commonly talked-about one, but bitter melon (Momordica charantia), a member of the cucumber family, is a delightful, manageable vine which is bound to become a show-stopper with the sweet-smelling delicate yellow flowers and brilliant red ripened fruits; the young fruits, by the way, are used in culinary preparations in several Asian countries. So pretty is the bitter melon vine that I have taken the liberty of growing a few vines on a trellis in a container next to the row of English Boxwoods planted as foundation shrubs in front of our home!

While the above mentioned plants are not so easily available, there are many every-day vegetables which can add excitement to any setting in the garden: imagine a row of lettuce flourishing in the front of a border in a flower bed, or hot pepper plants loaded with colorful ripe fruits mixed with annuals such as marigolds in a large container, or patio tomatoes, as the name implies, bearing fruits on the patio, deck or wherever the heart desires. And, for a dramatic effect, go for the bold, colorful leaves of Swiss chard. The possibilities are endless.

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