I was on a garden tour in Texas a few summers ago when I noticed a long row of tall, leafy plants covered in beautiful blooms. The lovely ivory flowers looked like hibiscus, so I had to get a closer look.
I can't tell you how surprised I was to find those weren't hibiscus but okra! Ever since I've looked for ways to add ornamental edibles to my front yard, flowerbeds and containers.
Edibles mix easily with flowers to create a combination that's beautifully delicious. Look for plants that feature unusual flowers, colorful fruit and finely cut foliage.
Here are four tips for mingling vegetables and herbs with your flowers:
1. Plant in Surprising Places. Add a rhubarb plant in the middle of the annual bed, or use frilly endive to create a border in front of the bed. Sprinkle the seeds of gourmet salad mixes in hanging baskets, with trailing cherry tomatoes and colorful petunias.
2. Disguise a Ho-hum View. Plant vines to grow up a trellis to block an unattractive fence, screen the patio sitting area or create a secret garden. 'Ruby Moon' hyacinth beans have pretty flowers and brilliant-purple pods.
3. Place Containers Strategically. Take advantage of small-space gardens by adding containers planted with herbs mixed with colorful flowering annuals or herbs mixed with vegetables. 'Fairytale' eggplant features bright-lavender flowers and slender, purple-striped fruits. Another popular option is an herb-only container placed inside the flowerbed.
4. Add Something New. Watch for novel varieties of old favorites; for example edible landscape lettuces, rainbow chard and brilliant-orange sweet peppers.
What are your favorite ornamental edibles? Please share your ideas here.