By Barbara Ganley, May 24, 2011 - 8:46pm
I've been wondering about my flower gardens lately--asking myself why I put so much energy into those lovely blooms that buzz nicely with bees and birds and bugs and bunnies (and sometimes deer) and feed my eyes so magnificently but not my stomach. Perhaps I should rethink those beds, make them work harder.
Over in the nearby orchard I have flowers, too, after all, gorgeous flowers that in spring also buzz with the same creatures except for the deer, thanks to the fence. But these flowers become edible fruit and nuts: cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums, hazelnuts. And then in summer the stunning sunflowers and lavender bloom--both will serve the kitchen, too. And then the berries with their less showy but pretty blossoms and fabulous fruit and intense fall color.
Why not choose flowers and trees and bushes that do double duty? Blueberries make lovely foundation plantings, bush cherries, too. Hazelnuts planted 3 - 6 feet apart form an incredible, edible hedge! Hazelnuts are packed with nutrients and are indispensible in my kitchen. Nut pines --I've just planted Swiss and Korean varieties-- can take the place of the other kinds of evergreens we plant for year- round green. And I'll be able to pick my own pine nuts for all sorts of Italian dishes and desserts! I can have blackberries covered with white flowers in spring (i'll pick some of the tender leaves at this point for tea) and then pick the delectable fruit in August and make all kinds of healthy treats.
I do love the peonies and delphiniums and hollyhocks and poppies and iris, and will certainly keep growing them, but I think that as spaces open up in the flower borders, I will choose to plant beautiful perennial edibles, in the spirit of a permaculture garden.
Do you grow any edibles as much for their good looks as for their good taste and nutrition? I'd love to hear about your choices!
Do you grow any edibles as much for their good looks as for their good taste and nutrition? Tell us what you think below.