Friday, 10 June 2011

An ornamental edible garden

Lately I've been pondering a lot about the ornamental qualities of an edible garden.

It could be my work at the garden centre that has inspired me.

It could be due to planting a few companion flowers in the garden to ward off pests (e.g. calendula and nasturtiums).

It could be recently reading Alys Fowler's book The Thrifty Gardener - I could not help but read this gardening manual cover to cover!  This book inspired me to look at the garden as a combination of a thing of beauty and an edible garden.  Previously, I had always been focussed on growing edibles.  It really got me thinking about combining the two aspects, not just the plants but the containers that the plants live within.

Since then shopping has not been the same - always on the lookout for potential plant containers where ever I go and what ever I consume.  Take a look at what the radishes are growing in, in the picture below.

As well as hunting for potential containers this also led to my sowing a few annual ornamentals which I haven't really done before.  Cosmos was the ornamental flower that crept in - technically speaking the rest of the flowers are recommended companions for an edible garden.

I find rainbow chard with its full leaves and colourful stems always to be visually beautiful as well as very tasty.  Virtues of growing chard

Another vegetable that I have always thought very beautiful are squash.  I grew crookneck summer squash last year and the leaves looked so lush, the flowers and the bright yellow fruit looked amazing. Wonder of germinating squash

This year I have simply been completely bowled over by the beauty of purple pea varieties.  I think their flowers are simply astounding.  The flowers look sweet and no doubt their peas will taste amazing too.  I have never grown these before.  They came in this year's batch of seeds from the Heritage Seed Library called Purple pod.  Just take a look at how it flowers.  Peas please

I had almost forgotten to eat nasturtiums.  I've grown them for the last few years but simply as a fodder for the aphids so that they would leave my more prized edibles alone.

The other day I was gardening at the Bramford Community Garden and one of the other volunteers ate a nasturtium leaf.  The penny dropped - of course, you can eat the leaves! So I picked a nasturtium leaf.  Immediately, I smelt a very evocative smell that reminded me of a smell I knew from my childhood and with that smell I remembered the taste.  I thought why didn't I do this sooner!!  Munched on the leaf and that leaf packed a punch of peppery flavour.  Ever since then, nasturtium leaves have appeared in my daily salad!!  And the leaves and the petals are so beautiful too.

Last week I planted a Globe Artichoke in the Bramford Community Garden for its beautiful tall thistle shaped flower and its multi purpose of being a beautiful and architectural plant as well as an edible.  (Not the one in the picture!)  It is just a baby plant at the moment but I am looking forward to it growing taller than me with loads of beautiful flower heads!

Another thing of beauty is strawberry plants.  They come in a range of flower colours from deep dark pink, to pale pink through to the classic white flowers.  They can be planted in hanging baskets where the ripening fruit can dangle down graciously.

Take a look at these radish flowers. 

If I hadn't neglected the radishes last summer, I would never have seen this beautiful display of white flowers.  Following on from the flowers came the radish pods which were delightfully crunchy in salad (a bit like very small mange tout). 

1 comment:

  1. Nasturiums grown as fodder for aphids -love it!
    Lovely post and blog Claire. Delighted you're following my blog hort'curious and I'm thrilled to reciprocate the follow!

    Ena Ronayne