Pretty and productive
Iam wondering when the decision was made that gardens were either productive or pretty. You can have wonderful fresh produce to nourish your family or you can have a visual feast through beautiful ornamentals placed in purposeful designs throughout your garden.
Quite often the productive garden is tucked away down the back, somewhere out of sight near the chook pen or behind the shed.
This happens while the prima donnas of the plant world such as roses take centre stage, soaking up the limelight and attention of the everyday gardener.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to combine both? Why shouldn’t we? Some edibles are incredibly beautiful and might well earn a spot on centre stage.
Stand back and take a really good look at some of our food-producing plants – many of them are stunning in their own right.
This time of year the humble quince tree comes into its own, with large delicate pink flowers with their heads raised above the newly emerging foliage.
I would stand here and argue that it rivals any of the flowering ornamental cherries. It might even give the magnolias a run for their money, but alas being a fruiting tree it is quite often forgotten and banished to the back of the yard.
Or are you more drawn to a formal garden with manicured topiaries and neatly trimmed hedges and think there is no place in this type of garden for productive plants?
What about some of the upright rosemary such as ‘Tuscan Blue’ or ‘Beneden Blue?’ Not only do they suit our climate and soil better than many of the other hedging plants, but they clip up to a tight, lovely fragrant border in no time at all.
And the humble bay tree makes an excellent clipped topiary standard. From a distance it is hard to pick from a standard fig.
So often when people are looking for a screening plant, pittosporum or photinias are the first thing to come to mind.
Don’t get me wrong, they will both do the job.
But wouldn’t it be nice to have a screen with pretty star white flowers emanating an alluring almost jasmine-like scent?
You would almost put this plant in just for that, but wait, there is more. This plant also provides a wonderful, sweet fruit that is high in vitamin C. Yes, I am talking about an orange tree. Citrus trees make a brilliant screen, they are quite happy to be left as is or you can clip them to a formal hedge.
You might reduce fruiting by clipping them, but hey, that is still more fruit than a pittosporum is going to give you.
There are so many of our edibles that can be used as ornamentals in the garden.
At the moment my rocket is flowering up through the borage and looking as glorious as larkspur, and the sage is just about to burst flower.
Last year it looked as good as any of the ornamental salvias, except maybe the bog sage, but bog sage was my first love affair with salvias.
Dare to look outside the box and mix it up. Take a risk, be adventurous, buck the norm. After all, isn’t that what life is about?
And for me… adding edibles to my ornamental garden is a safer and cheaper way to rebel against every day convention than quitting my job, buying a ‘hog’ and riding off into the sunset.
– Jody Taberner, Dip Hort and Dip CLM, runs Botanical Nursery in Horsham.