With edible gardens gaining so much attention, many people are exploring ways to mix food plants into their landscape design. Rather than choosing between a practical garden and a pleasing one, people are creating hybrid gardens of both food and flowers—you and your garden benefit from both!
Have some free space in your flower garden? Try filling in the gaps with vegetables. A plant with leafy foliage, like sweet potatoes, makes a lush backdrop to colorful tropical flowers. Tomatoes or peppers can bring a splash of red, green, and yellow fruit. Eggplants introduce darker shades of plum and merlot that give your landscape design more depth and shadow. Vining veggies, like peas and beans, can bring your fences and pergolas to life with greenery.
As an added bonus, neighboring flowers attract more bees for pollination and predatory insects to naturally control pests, giving better crop yields for your fruits and vegetables— and remember that some tropical flowers are edible!
Edible Edging and Groundcover
Instead of edging your borders with annuals, try edging your beds with herbs. Compact herbs like mint, cilantro, and basil can hide the legs of taller flowers or shrubs. Groundcovers like thyme or oregano can cover any space around stepping stones, rocks, or the edge of retaining walls. Your garden will be rich with fragrant scents. Plus, this landscape design leaves your edible herbs within arm’s reach!
Raised Beds for Flowers and Edibles
Many gardeners build raised beds for vegetables. These can be planted with flowers and integrated into your landscape design, too! When we think of raised beds, we usually imagine rectangular wooden boxes. These are practical, tidy, and easy-to-build, but if we’re considering a whole landscape design, we have the chance to think beyond the box.
Stone retaining walls or tiered flower gardens have all of the same advantages of raised beds, but with several aesthetic perks, such as curving lines and pleasing stonework. If you already have some in your landscape, they can easily double as a raised vegetable bed. Or, if you’re planning to install a new design, consider multiple purposes for both your hard and soft landscapes.
Edible Fruit Trees
Our climate in South Florida can accommodate a variety of delicious fruit trees, from oranges to limes, guavas, jackfruit, papayas, and even bananas. If you’re looking for lush trees for your landscape design, why not plant one that’s edible? Or if you’re searching for a big harvest of edibles, a fruit tree will usually provide even more than you can eat, and all for very little maintenance.
As a bonus, many fruit trees give you an explosion of flowers when they bloom, adding color and fragrance to your whole landscape design. Like any tree, they have year-round interest, including the unique bark and extravagant leaves of many tropical varieties.
More Tips for Marrying Flowers with Vegetables
- Keep in mind your plant’s water needs when mixing edibles into your landscape design. You wouldn’t want a drought-tolerant Mediterranean lavender bumping up against a thirsty tomato plant. Try to group plants together that have similar water needs, where possible.
- Too much shade for one plant is just right for another. Take advantage of shady nooks in your landscape design to plant shade-loving edibles.
Once we start to see the beauty of vegetables and herbs, suddenly we create new possibilities for our landscape, and the range of plants available for our design expands. As the biodiversity of our garden expands, so does the whole health of the garden. The plants themselves enjoy mutually beneficial relationships. At the end of the day, we enjoy all the benefits of fresh produce, as well as a stunning landscape design!