These days few people have the time or space for a separate vegetable garden or orchard, yet there is no reason why you can’t incorporate food-bearing plants into your garden, creating an easy, edible landscape.
There are hundreds of different plants that can fulfil any landscape need, and at the same time add something that can be eaten. You can savour luscious berries and sun-ripened tomatoes as well as exotic vegetables with many species nowadays just as abundant in attractive pots as in the garden.
Some of the easiest and most valued home-grown edibles include flavoursome herbs. Start with one of two of your favourites, then build up your collection as they need very little space and most can be found in very hardy varieties. Fresh herbs add a fantastic zing to meals and are easy to grow year-round.
Most modern fruit and vegetable species offer ornamental value. Their stalks, leaves, blossoms and fruit can work well in many situations, either set apart or mixed amongst borders and beds, or on a deck if you live in a central city apartment with no garden. Some act dramatically alongside their neighbours; others as understudies to more flamboyant characters in the garden.
Edible planting is not only practical and functional but can add to the colour, texture and form to your landscape design. Besides supplying you with fresh produce at a reasonable cost, it makes your property more attractive and inviting.
There are attractive edibles to suit all landscape levels, starting with tall trees, then smaller trees, followed by a shrub layer, and finally the low shrubs and ground cover.
Some trees with edible fruits or nuts, such as walnut or mulberry, will provide welcome shade. Smaller trees and larger shrubs act well as single specimen or as focal points.
You could substitute roses with fruit bushes such as blueberry, raspberry, currants and gooseberries in attractive colour-coordinated pots. As an alternative to wisteria, jasmine or clematis, you can train grapes to clamber along walls or fences, or over a pergola. Strawberries can be planted at ground level or as a substitute for annuals producing fragrant delights year after year.
Edible planting should reflect the needs of the house and its residents. For example, a tree that drops fruit would be inappropriate planted near a parking space or front entrance. One of the great things about vegetables and herbs is that you can also experiment all year round with a range of varieties until you find your favourites. Exotic vegetables are great to have a go at growing, and it can become a well-enjoyed hobby for the whole family at very little cost.
For their immediate bounty as well as long term enjoyment of form and beauty, it’s well worth growing edibles in your garden or whatever corner of outdoors you can find.