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Sneaky edibles -What are the most beautiful edibles in your garden?

 
gardener
Posts: 464
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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I like to put edibles in my flower gardens, intermixed with flowers. I love when there is an edible plant that is stunningly beautiful that I can sneak in - and get compliments on!

My favourites are:
-Amaranth- red leaves provide a lot of interest and food early in the season, and the bright red heads are stunning. Planning a much bigger patch next year.
- Rhubarb - the red stalks against the green leaves are pretty striking as a foliage plant with hostas (which are also edible).
- cabbage. Honestly, I am a little obsessed with the grey green ball shape of cabbage. I consider my two rows of cabbage some of the prettiest in my veggie garden, andthey provide a lot of visual interest.
- cherry tomatos. When they start ripening, they add a lot of interest to the beds.
- Various herbs - lavender, thyme, mint, etc have lovely flowers. Sage adds texture and colour as a foliage plant.

What are your favourites?

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Dill amaranth and background cabbage
Dill amaranth and background cabbage
Amaranth-seed-head.jpg
Amaranth seed head
Amaranth seed head
 
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Amaranths and sorghums are really pretty. I don’t have any this year, but next year I will. I think the prettiest things I have growing this year are scarlet runner beans and brocolli/purple cauliflower. The runner blossoms are very pretty on the trellis, and the brocolli and cauliflower are huge and kind of tropical or pre-historic looking. They’re about 2-3 cu. ft, very impressive as garden plants.
 
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Day Lillies - the buds are edible and I've used them in stir-fries. I believe the leaf shoots are in spring, but I haven't tried them yet, nor have I tried the roots because the patch isn't overgrown enough that I want to harvest them yet. Downside - the deer agree with me on this one.

Personally, I adore Scarlet Runner Bean vines - the flowers and the way the vines grow quickly to shade places that need some pretty shade. Bonus - the Hummingbirds agree with me. Downside - the deer not only agree, but seem particularly partial to all parts of bean plants so protection is essential in my eco-system.
 
pollinator
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Cardoons (not to be confused with artichokes, although those would also fit the bill)


Swiss chard
 
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Location: 5b Ontario
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Amaranths! I actually grow them and plant them in locations for their ornamental value. I do harvest some of the seeds, but mostly just for seed keeping for the following year. I leVe theain seedheads for the wildlife.

Swiss chard is also pretty spectactular! I always have rainbow swiss chards.

Calendula are one of the most cheerful flowers, whether they are orange or yellow. As are poppies! I love poppies! Nasurtiums are also quite nice.

Vining beans are often really pretty- my purple vining beans have gorgeous fuschia flowers against gark green leaves woth red veins.

This year I also have variegated tomatoes. The foliage is gorgeous- they are attractive enough to be ornamentals. I cant wait until the fruit ripens, and all the boughs of tomatoes light up red against the silvery green and white leaves. :)  

And while Icant find much information on it, my rose of sharons and my rose mallows *would seem* to be edible, given they are part of the mallow family. Not sure if I could bear to pluck my gorgeous flowers from their stems, but I actually like hibiscus tea so I might sacrifice one or two to try.


IMG_20200811_122308.jpg
Are rose mallows tasty? ... they are certainly special!
Are rose mallows tasty? ... they are certainly special!
 
Catie George
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Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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Swiss chard is indeed pretty. Now if only I would actually eat it :)

Sionnain - I would love to see your variegated tomatos!!! What is the variety name?
Skandi- the cardoons are lovely! I am considering trying artichokes here as an annual, they are marginal and need a lot of care but I love the taste...

I found this photo from earlier this spring, rhubarb, hosta, chives, columbine, and iris. All but the columbine and iris are edinle, and they look quite nice together.
DSCN9193.JPG
Edible and ornamental
Edible and ornamental
 
Jay Angler
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Catie George wrote:All but the columbine and iris are edible, and they look quite nice together.

Iris rhizomes have use in the medical and perfume industry: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/i/irises08.html
I've read somewhere about using them as part of a tree-guild and generating a little cash from selling the rhizomes. I do have some under a plum tree, but I just enjoy the flowers!
 
master pollinator
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Location: Vermont, USA
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I once grew an enormous flower garden on the site of a previous 5-vehicle commercial garage.  I didn't want to plant food in it right away.  (I bought the land with a deep hole where the foundation used to be.  They claimed to have tested the soil but they weren't the most ethical people I've ever met.  I made soil by dumping leaves there for a few years, so the soil was uncontaminated and fairly deep.)

I started trying a few plants - cherry tomatoes, lacinato kale, cucumber, and pepper.  The property was in an area where many people walked on their way to the bike trail.  The immigrants always asked me why I didn't plant food!  (Permies!)  Once, after explanation, someone asked me, "What's that gorgeous plant?"  Answer:  kale.  Lacinato has a blue tint, is upright, and very handsome!

Once I saw a landscape designer's yard that had a huge rhubarb sitting all by itself in a nook near the edge of the trees.  Everyone always asked her, "What's that gorgeous plant?"  Away from a food garden, it was hard to recognize!
 
Sionainn Cailís
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Location: 5b Ontario
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Catie George wrote:

Sionnain - I would love to see your variegated tomatos!!! What is the variety name?
Skandi- the cardoons are lovely! I am considering trying artichokes here as an annual, they are marginal and need a lot of care but I love the taste...



They are supposedly Irish tomatoes. :)

I have no idea if they have a specific title, only that I managed to get a little bunch of seeds. To the best of my (probably deeply flawed and incomplete) knowledge, Ireland is the home of the only variegated leaf tomatoes. One of those things I could probably research further.

Also to note is that the variegated pattern isn't consistent on all leaves, and apparently comes out more in cooler weather. Something that probably would have been more prominent in a normal year, but this year is abnormally hot.

Anecdotally, I am here in Ontario, Canada, which is suffering under some truly awful tropical weather this summer, and of the 4 Irish tomato plants I have, the two in the sunny hot area are doing very poorly- stunted, runty, and downright miserable looking, with only a handful of tomatoes on each beaten little plant. The two I have in my partial-sun patio planter are extremely happy, and are doing quite well. Apparently everything produced in Ireland is allergic to sun, even summer fruits. . . .

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Maybe not the best photo, and I am pretty laxadazical about pruning them :)
Maybe not the best photo, and I am pretty laxadazical about pruning them :)
 
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