When considering an edible garden the first thing most people will think of is the vegetable garden. Vegetable gardens are by far the most popular type of edible garden for the home gardener. There are, however, many garden trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers which are both edible and attractive enough for use in your landscape design.
Second to the vegetable garden in terms of popularity is the herb garden. They’re an attractive yet very useful addition to any garden. Many herbs will flower along with perennials in the garden. Thyme, for example, is a great spring flowering groundcover as well as a prized herb in the kitchen. When designing your herb garden, especially if you intend to use the herbs that you grow, it is best to keep it in close range of your kitchen, just outside your backdoor, for example. Pots and containers other options if you have a sunny deck or windowsill. In either case, the closer, the better.
Other useful herbs for the garden include; basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, cilantro (also known as coriander), Laurel (bay) and lemon verbena. Each of these are widely used in cooking. Chamomile, Peppermint and Spearmint are popular edible herbs that can be used for making tea.
Trellises and arbors which support edible grapevines are an aesthetically pleasing feature in the landscape and can provide some shade to a sunny patio. Grapevines are vigorous growers so be sure to choose a structure which is strong enough to support them.
When selecting trees for your garden, consider, if space allows, orchards of apple or pear trees. An orchard is one of the most productive yet beautiful landscapes one can imagine. Where space is limited, one or two fruit bearing trees planted in the garden are wonderful accent plants. Fruit trees are one of the most common and versatile garden plants and add seasonal interest to the landscape with showy displays of colorful flowers in the spring and colorful foliage in the fall. While apple and pear trees are great, don’t overlook nut producing trees, such as the black walnut. These trees are generally larger than fruit trees and can provide a good amount of shade in the garden.
Instead of the more traditional groundcovers, try planting strawberries. They’re a fast grower and can spread over a larger area within a just a few years.
Edible plants can even be incorporated within the traditional shrub border. Quince, for example, fits in perfectly in the sunny border with its beautiful peach colored flowers in the spring. Highbush blueberries are an excellent shrub for naturalizing the landscape or for serving as a backdrop to the rest of the garden. Plant them along the edge of the forest as a transition plant between the existing natural landscape and garden. They are also ideal for wet soils. Lowbush blueberries, as the name suggests, are low growing and, when planted on a slope, work well as groundcovers.
Edible garden are also a wonderful way to attract wildlife to your garden. What doesn't get eaten by visitors to your garden will surely be eaten by birds and other animals.