Pretty and pro­duc­tive

LifeStyle Wimmera - - INSIDE - By Jody Taberner

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.

Happy gar­den­ing

– Jody Taberner, Dip Hort and Dip CLM, runs Botan­i­cal Nurs­ery in Hor­sham.

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