A minor dispute broke out in my neighborhood this week. When a couple planted herbs and vegetables along their front walkway, the HOA president chastised them via email: “Now you have a garden in front of the house. Who approved that? Please take care of the above quickly.”
To some, an area where edibles are growing is a “garden” while other plants are for “landscaping”, but Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner, authors of The Beautiful Edible Garden, debunk this myth. Published by Ten Speed Press in 2013, the book offers design ideas for stylish outdoor spaces that incorporate vegetables, fruits and herbs.
What sets this book apart from others covering the same topic are the specific plants they suggest and the reasons they give for plant choices. For an unexpected border, try alpine strawberries, which produce tasty white fruit but don’t send out runners. Other strawberries wouldn’t grow in a neat line like alpines do. Bennett and Bittner recommend peppers, eggplant, chard and cabbage as attractive additions to an existing ornamental bed. They call it an “integrated garden” which is perfect for those who don’t want to completely start over on areas they’ve already planted.
Because it’s so common for people to view edible plants only as food producers, the pair encourage readers to look at the architectural characteristics of every plant. Big, bushy rosemary can line a path and create a visual anchor as much as another less-fragrant and less useful shrub.
Edible gardening is much more than a fun idea for those with a heart for it. It’s become a revolution, with some gardeners transforming their entire front yard, back yard or both into food-growing plots. In Orlando where I live, Jason and Jennifer Helvengston launched a protest called “Plant a Seed, Change the Law” after the city insisted they replace their front yard veggie garden with a lawn last year.
Because some neighborhoods and even whole towns and cities resist non-traditional plantings, a book like this one is especially important. It points out the so-called landscaping possibilities offered by plants that produce food, allowing gardeners to use traditional bed, border, hedge and path designs to conduct their food-growing operations. Once you finish The Beautiful Edible Garden, you are in possession of all these secrets, and you can take care of the above quickly.
Ready to dive in? Come by the shop to purchase a copy, or buy a copy HERE.