By Cindy Naas
Recently, I’ve been traveling a fair amount, and the first thing I always want to do is to look at local gardens.
I’ve seen a lot of vegetables showing up in fairly traditional landscapes.
While these people who add a lettuce border to a floral border may not be ready to cut down the roses and grow chard instead, they are slowly adding more food crops to their home landscapes, and that’s good.
Corn is becoming a popular accent plant. Recently, I saw a beautiful garden of cutting flowers grown against a background of tall green corn. It was a beautiful garden, and the corn was producing a fair amount for such a small space. Most important, it did not look out of place in the fairly formal landscape of the home.
Lettuce can be used to edge a garden, and some of the red-leafed varieties are just beautiful. I saw a knot garden made primarily of lettuces which was very attractive, and the roses grown in the centre of this garden were framed nicely by the various greens of lettuce.
Onions added to a landscape will add height and interesting foliage to a smaller flower garden. Some of the green onions actually have colored stems as well – I sometimes grow Santa Claus green onions near a small bed of purple pansies or petunias, and the colors compliment each other nicely.
Swiss chard can give a bed of annuals a very exotic look with its large leaves. Growing ‘Bright Lights’ chard adds a splash of color to a flower garden, too. However, the bed of red Swiss chard grown amongst some roses was absolutely stunning, and I intend to add chard to my rose bed for next summer.
The most beautiful hanging basket I’ve seen this summer contained yellow cherry tomatoes and purple wave petunias. The tomato foliage looked nicer than I’d expected next to the flowers, and the yellow tomatoes hanging down are like little gems next to the deep purple of the petunias.
A restaurant I visited recently had a beautiful garden in the center of the outdoor patio. The purple basil and eggplants contrasted nicely with the bright green romaine lettuce and the red Swiss chard, and the trellised tomatoes at the back of the garden were bearing lots of fruit. The garden worked beautifully at setting the mood in the outdoor dining area, and looked more decorative than like a real veggie garden.
It’s wonderful to see veggies being added to existing gardens. It’s also great to see hanging baskets beginning to include vegetables. Adding in practical veggies to the more decorative flowers really does give a garden purpose and function as well as form.