Currently, one of the hottest trends in landscape design is called “Edible Landscapes”. Edible landscapes seek to incorporate vegetable, herbs, berries and fruit trees into urban and suburban landscapes.
I can attest that it is pretty easy to create an attractive outdoor space using a mix of fruiting plants and ornamentals. Each season my little potager contains lots of vegetables mixed in with daylilies, salvias, justicias and dianthus. The structure and color that these ornamentals add make the less showy vegetables much more attractive to look at.
I strive to make my spring and fall potager as attractive as possible. While the aesthetics are important, there are a couple of side benefits to this combination of plants that make the garden much more efficient and productive.
First, since this is a vegetable garden, I mulch everything fairly well. This mulch moderates soil temperatures and reduces water lost to evaporation. Because of this, I am able to keep a fairly large amount of plants alive on MUCH less water than would be required to keep up a lush lawn of the same size.
Increased pollination is another side benefit of mixing vegetables and ornamentals. Since I have a wide range of flowers that bloom throughout the year, my potager is always full of bees and other pollinators. In addition to giving me something else to watch while I am in the garden, these pollinators make sure that I get lots tomatoes, squash and cucumbers every season.
If you would like to learn more about edible landscapes, you can join my wife and I at the Travis County “Edible Gardens Tour” In Austin. My friend (and fellow MOH blogger and Texas Gardener writer) Patty Leander will be giving a presentation on the healthy aspects of vegetable gardening at the Agrilife Extension Center. If you don’t want to start your tour at the Extension office, feel free to start at any of seven houses that are on the tour. You can get your tickets, schedule and map to the houses online. The tour kicks off at 9:00 and there will be short presentations at each one. This is a great opportunity to see and learn from some very good gardeners that are doing great things by combining edibles and ornamentals in their yards and gardens. As an added bonus, some of houses on the tour also use water wise gardening practices. With the constant threat of water restricitions, this will be a great opportunity to pick up some of the tips and tricks you need to continue growing food when the rains don’t come.
The tour costs $15 per person in advance and you can reserve your tickets on the event website (Click Here). The tour will start at the Travis County Agrilife Extension Center located at 1600-B Smith Road in Austin. Hope to see you there!
P.S. If you can’t make the tour in person be sure to watch KLRU’s “Central Texas Gardener”. Their October 13 show will feature many of the gardens and the gardeners that are featured on the tour. Their schedule is below.
also on UNCMX Raleigh-Durham and K32EO Colorado Springs