Usually people think about ornamental landscaping and gardening as two different things. Really, they don’t have to be. Last year, I wrote about my friend Kim, who was using blueberries as foundation plantings and last Wednesday, Kirsten Conrad Buhls gave a talk at Arlington’s Central Library on edible landscaping.
Kirsten, a Horticulture Agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, told attendees that for almost every ornamental plant use there is an edible landscape plant that can be substituted.
By studying your current landscape and assessing conditions and design needs, you may be able to use edible plants as design elements. For instance, a trellis with kiwi, grapes, passionflower, Malabar spinach or pole beans could be used to create a privacy screen or one wall of an outdoor room. Alpine strawberries, chamomile, and thyme make excellent ground covers. Currants, blueberries, and red raspberries can grow into attractive foundation plantings or hedge borders.
As with any landscape endeavor, research into conditions and care in plant selection and placement matter. The blueberries, for instance, like an acid soil and cooler temperatures. They could be placed on the east side of a house where they got morning light but not the worst of afternoon sun.
If you’re thinking of changing your landscape, think about using edibles. The Central Library garden grows on a space that once held only ornamental plantings and it has proven to be both attractive and an attraction for library patrons.
If you want to look into the idea of planting edibles, you could take a trip to Edible Landscaping in Afton, Virginia or visit the website for the Hampton Roads Agriculture Research and Education Center, which has an edible landscaping demonstration garden. Both have extensive practical information. Wouldn’t you like to be harvesting from the shrubs instead of shearing them?