Pretty and Productive

18-01-2013
Pretty and Productive

Pretty or and Productive

I am a production-focused gardener.  I like to get a little more out of my garden than just ‘eye candy’.  I love to eat the fruits of my labors.  I love the nutrition and healthy lifestyle that having a garden affords us.  And I think a kitchen garden is the epitome of beautiful.  When I walk out to my garden, I love to take a pinch from my sweet marjoram and rub it under my nose.  I love to pick a grape tomato and sample it with the warmth of the sun still lingering on the skin.  And I love to park myself somewhere and watch the bees and hoverflies go nuts over my thyme plants. 

But I know that not everyone thinks the same way.  I know quite a few people, in fact, who would rather grow ornamentals than anything else.  However, in the economic climate of the world, perhaps it’s time to find out which of your plants are already edible, and to discover a few beautiful edibles to plant instead. 

It might mean branching a little out of your comfort zone, either with your food (ever tried edible flowers?) or your landscape (maybe corn stalks really are quite pretty after all!).

Perhaps there are some ornamentals growing in your yard or flower beds that are actually edible (some lilies have edible starchy roots).  How about these:

Edible Ornamentals

  • Fuschias: leave the flowers on after blooming and they produce an edible red or purple berry.
  • Tuberous begonias: edible stem and flowers
  • Hollyhock: leaves, flowers, and roots
  • English daisies: edible flowers
  • Lilies: edible starchy root of some species

Below are a couple dozen swaps, mostly for perennial and annual flowers.  But think about the swaps you could make with trees, tropicals, bushes and shrubs, etc.  (How about instead of a tall evergreen, you grow a monkey puzzle tree?  Okay, maybe that one is a little bit out there.  But then again, maybe your grandkids would appreciate being able to harvest monkey puzzle nuts in 50 or 60 years.)

Annual Flowers………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Edible Suggestions

Foxglove (poisonous)………………………………………………Bee Balm (Monarda didyma – a herb), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis – a herb), or Velvet mullein (a herb)

Torch lily……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Celosia, Amaranth, or Quinoa

Forget-me-nots or Lily of the Valley (poisonous)………………………………………………………………American speedwell (Veronica americana – edible green leaves)

Monkshood (poisonous, perennial)…....………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Edible garden peas (annuals)

Boxwood……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….……Sweet Marjoram or Germander

English ivy, Morning Glories………………………..Sweet potato vines (edible root; it even happens to be related to the morning glory, and produces very similar flowers)

Cosmos……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………………Poppies (seeds)

Irises or tulips………………………………………………………………………………….Lilies (edible starchy bulbs of some species), Daylily (certain species have edible flowers), or Hibiscus (edible flowers; H. syriacus for temperate areas)

Dahlia………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….English Daisies

Dusty miller………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Kitchen sage (Salvia officinalis)

Arums, Elephants Ears…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Rhubarb (perennial) or Swiss Chard (annual)

Ferns…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Vegetable fern (Diplazium esculentum)

 

Disclaimer: As always, before you eat anything, be certain you know that it is edible!  When eating flowers, consume only the petals.  When trying anything new for the first time, proceed with caution in case of allergic reactions.  It's always good to get a second opinion and the advice of professional foragers and growers when choosing plants and seeds for an edible garden.

Picture is a flower from a purple sweet potato vine, by Earth100

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