One of the best ways to get more enjoyment from your residential landscape and your garden (and the labour required in it) is to include some edible plants that will enhance your cooking. There is something special in the simple task of wandering out to the garden just before dinner, picking enough lettuce and spinach for a spring salad, snipping some parsley and basil to add to a pasta dish, and of course grabbing a few varieties of tomatoes to be served with olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Every meal is a little more special, and tastes better when you have grown some of the ingredients.
While a vegetable garden is a must for some people, not everyone has the space or the dedication to care for it. However, it is a very simple thing to add a few perennial or annual herbs and vegetables here and there in amongst the flowers and the shrubs. Chives with their showy purple flower heads are the easiest plant in the world to grow. Garlic chives is similar, but with larger white flowers. They look great in the garden. Parsley can be grown by seed, or purchased in the spring, and the deep green is vibrant throughout the year, usually until after the first snowfall. Sage comes in many varieties and colors, and adds another texture to the garden. An added benefit to mixing strongly flavored and scented herbs in the garden is that they tend to keep insects and animals out and away from the other plants.
Don’t forget about edible flowers. Pansies, nasturtiums, pinks, lavender and borage among others, have flowers that can be added to your salads and other foods for colour and taste. They mix in well with any type of shrub and perennial garden.
Larger edible plants can be inconspicuously added to the back of the beds. Rhubarb, lovage, dill and asparagus are all tall plants, and can easily be added to a sunny corner area. Plant them behind a late summer or fall blooming plant that will camouflage them later in the season when they are not looking their best. As well, many herbs and vegetables grow well in containers and can sit on the patio and porch. Then it really only takes a second to get the ingredients for dinner!
Take the few moments it takes in the spring to add a few of these plants to your residential landscape and your gardens, and I guarantee that your taste buds will thank you for the explosion of flavours that these few plants will add to your cooking and your meals. Bon appetit!
Post written by: Christine Gracey, OALA, CSLA