One of my gardening passions has always been to mix edible plants in with ornamentals or regular flowering plants. Ten years ago, I planted some "purple peppers" (aka the Lilac variety) with some bright yellow marigolds in a small sunny bed. I love pepper plants--they stand straight and are a rich green. The little marigolds worked well in between the pepper plants. And then when the purple peppers began to get prominent--well that was fun!
Ahead of my time? No, not really. Gardeners have been mixing edibles with ornamentals since the beginning of time I know. BUT, this "mixing" is definitely becoming more in vogue; there is no question about that!
Recently, Emily Dydo submitted a piece for www.hortmag.com called "Sneaking Edibles in Among the Ornamentals" that gives some good basic pointers for doing just that. This is not an incredibly detailed piece but it does point the way to a book that has some interest.
The post obviously has warmer climates in mind than Skillin's Country. I do question the suggestion about using berry bushes as a foundation planting (except for maybe a sunny back yard area). But there is some good "food for thought" in the article. I do love the idea of strawberry plants as a ground cover. I did this myself for a few years and I really liked it.
The point is, definitely try edibles with ornamentals. Practically, you will get more bee activity and that is great for pollination for vegetables. You will get some neat texture combinations and any good vegetable garden should have plenty of flowers! Why not after all?
June 12, 2012