Edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the constructed landscape, principally the residential landscape. Edible landscapes combine fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs.
There are many reasons to incorporate edible plants into the residential landscape. These include:
To enjoy the freshness and flavor of home-grown, fully ripened fruits and vegetables.
To control the quantity and kind of pesticides and herbicides used on the foods you consume.
To increase the food security of your household.
To save on grocery bills.
To grow unusual varieties not available in stores.
To get outside, interact with the natural world, and have fun.
Edible landscaping is as old as gardening itself and has undergone a recent revival. Ancient Persian gardens combined both edible and ornamental plants. Medieval monastic gardens included fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal herbs. Plans for 19th century English suburban yards, which modeled themselves after country estates, often included edible fruits and berries. The edible components of residential landscapes were largely lost in this country to the now familiar shade trees, lawns, and foundation plantings.
2121 Oregon Grape ( Mahonia aquifolium )
This is a very beautiful and useful evergreen shrub. Its
upright stems and coarse leaves form an irregular mound up to
8' tall. As the bush matures, it sends out additional stems to
form a clump up to 6' wide. The bluish green leaves are coarse
and spiny and resemble holly. The compound leaves are radially
arranged at the end of each stem. Bright yellow flowers appear
atop the stem in spring.
Location: Oregon grape holly is native from the northwestern
United States on into Canada. It is widely grown as an
Culture: Light: Needs shady conditions, hot direct sun will
burn leaves. Moisture: Likes moist soil high in organic
material, but adaptable. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9.
Propagation: Clumps can be divided.
Usage: This plant thrives in shady areas where selection of
plants is limited. Can be used in entry ways and under roof
eaves if adequate moisture is maintained. I like to use
mahonias under a canopy of pine along with azaleas and
camellias. Can also be used as an outdoor container plant.
Features: The bright yellow flowers are beautiful against the
lustrous blue green leaves. The bright blue berries on dark red
stems are even more striking.
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FB154 Black Chokeberry ( Aronia Melanocarpa )
Black chokeberry is a deciduous shrub that grows to about 6 feet tall in bogs, swamps,
wet woods and occasionally in dry sandy soil of oak woods and pine barrens. It can
tolerate partial shade, but produces the most flowers and fruit, and the brightest red fall
color, in full sun. Best suited for zones 4-9.
The leaves are up to 8 cm long, with finely serrated edges. The flowers bloom in May
and are white, rounded and with a short claw. The flowers are in loose clusters of 8 to 10
up to 5 cm across.
The fruit, which matures by late August, is round, up to 12 mm across, dark purple to
black, and in drooping clusters on long red stalks. The fruit is technically a "pome", like
an apple or pear, where the seeds are in a stiff core surrounded by fleshy tissue. The fruit
is sour, even when ripe, so that it persists until midwinter as a "last resort" food source
for songbirds, upland game birds and small mammals.
In northern Europe Aronia is commercially grown for bottled fruit juice. The fruit is
valued for its juice which is very high in anthocyanins, blends well with other fruit juices
and is reputed as a source of "phenols, leucoanthocyanins, catachines, flavonoles, and
flavones" that are considered to be bioactive in humans. In the US it's growing in
popularity as a landscape shrub since it tolerates both wet and dry soil, is attractive from
spring through fall and resists most diseases and pests.
2795 Shungiku Edible Chrysanthemum ( Chrysanthemum
3-4 ft. Hardy Annual. Also known as the Garland Chrysanthemum
or Chop Suey Shungiku. Tender, edible greens have a unique,
zesty flavor. Harvest at 4-6 in. For fresh use or braising.
Lovely 1-3 in. flowers, used sparingly, make a nice addition to
mixed salad greens, or can be sold separately as an edible
garnish. (60-80 days) (avg. 10,700 seeds/oz.)
HR175 Oregano ( Origanum vulgare )
Best suited for zones 4-8. This is an herb that is grown almost
exclusively for culinary use. A rhizomatous, sprawling plant
which typically grows to 18" tall with a similar spread.
Features pungently aromatic, flavorful, oval, dark green leaves
(to 1" long) which are commonly used in cooking as a seasoning.
Leaves may be clipped fresh as needed or dried for year-round
use. Best leaf flavor usually occurs just prior to flowering,
but the quality of flavor can vary considerably from plant to
plant. Tiny, white to rosy pink flowers appear in loose,
terminal or axillary spikes throughout the summer.
E3102 Juneberry, Saskatoon Serviceberry ( Amelanchier
Low water requirements, grows as high as 10,000 feet. A
deciduous shrub that seldom exceeds 15 feet in height and
occasionally suckering to form a slowly spreading clump. An
easily grown plant, it prefers a rich loamy soil and thrives in
any soil that is not too dry or water-logged. The largest
yields, and best quality fruits, are produced when the plant is
grown in a sunny position, though it should also do reasonably
well in semi-shade. The plants are fairly lime tolerant and
they will also grow well in heavy clay soils. They are very
cold-hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to at least
-20°c and probably much lower. Flowers in Early Spring,
these white flowers are produced before the plants come into
leaf, and are usually produced so abundantly that the whole
plant turns white. They look particularly beautiful at this
time. By late June, or more commonly early to mid July, the
plants will usually be carrying large crops of fruits. These
fruits are about 15mm in diameter, they are soft, sweet and
juicy with a taste that reminds us of apples. Small enough to
be eaten without problems, though they can add a slightly
bitter almond-like flavour to the fruit if they are crushed
whilst eating. The fruit can also be cooked in pies etc., when
dried it is quite sweet and can be used in the same ways as
D2209 Chinese Hackberry ( Celtis Sinensis )
A hardy and easy to grow plant. Tolerates drought; any soil;
gusty winds; smog; sun or shade, but does not like heavy fog.
Makes an attractive, low-maintenance street tree. Deep,
non-invasive roots rarely cause sidewalk problems. Disease and
pest resistant. Berries attract birds. Tree grows to10m in
cultivation. Small green flowers are borne in Spring followed
by small, sweet, edible fruit which are a dark-orange ripening
D2219 Russian Olive ( Elaegnus Angustifolia )
Zone 6-9. Russian-olives are non-native, deciduous shrubs or
small trees that grow to 20 feet tall. It has yellow flowers
and dry yellow mealy fruits. Silver scales occur on the
underside of the leaves. The twigs of Russian-olive are
typically covered with thorns. These shrubs begin to flower and
fruit annually after 3 years. An individual plant can produce 8
pounds of fruit each year. The leaves are covered with small
scales which give the foliage a distinctive silvery appearance.
The fruit is berry-like, and is silvery when first formed but
turns brown at maturity.
Although its fruits are used in drinks and to make preserves,
it is more sought after for its white shoots and
silverundersides of leaves which give them an ornamental
D2220 Honey Locusts ( Gleditsia )
This tree is cultivated for its golden fern-like foliage. The
small, greenish-yellow flowers bloom in May and June and are
fragrant. The fruit are actually 7" to 18" long, twisted,
flattened pods, approximately 1" wide and strap-like, color
changes from green to dark brown. The pulp is sweet and thus
the name. The pods are often fermented to make beer or to feed
to livestock. Beware, lots of thorns! Hardy to zone 4.
D2267 Pomegranate ( Punica )
This plant is known for its glossy foliage that turns from
bronze to green to golden by fall. Tolerant of heat, wind,
drought, and alkaline soil, and resistant to many diseases, it
is a good choice for a variety of landscaping needs. The plant
can be used as a hedge, screen, windbreak or feature plant.
Smaller varieties make good container and bonsai plants. Its
fruit can be chewed or used in jelly. For zones 8-11.
D2285 Strawberry Tree ( Arbutus )
For zone 7-10. The strawberry tree is a beautiful small
evergreen tree or shrub usually growing 20-35 feet tall, and
can be container grown in large tubs. Considered cold hardy
down to 10 degrees, it is a very easy plant to grow.
The strawberry tree produces masses of beautiful white flowers
in November and December. Since the fruit takes 12 months to
ripen, the tree carries both mature fruit and flowers at the
same time and is then incredibly beautiful. This is a superb
plant to grow as a specimen in a lawn, and it also grows very
well on the sunny edges of a woodland garden.
The fruit varies considerably in size, though it averages about
½-¾ inch in diameter. It is a lovely red colour and,
from a distance, does look a little like strawberries - hence
the common name of the plant. The resemblance to strawberries,
however, does not apply to the taste. While it does have a
somewhat gritty skin, when fully ripe the fruit itself has the
texture of a lush tropical fruit and has a delicate pleasant
flavour. For those people with sensitive taste buds, this is a
fruit that can be enjoyed when eaten in moderate quantities.
The fruit can also be cooked and is used to make delicious and
nourishing jams and preserves.
Ripening over a period of several weeks in late autumn and
early winter, the fruit will fall from the tree when it is