Edible Landscaping

From the dawn of antiquity human health, happiness and culture have been intimately and essentially connected to plants and the land on which they grow.

This ancient bond between people, plants and soil would at first glance seem drawn by necessity alone, the need to grow food to sustain life and to furnish other useful materials. However, a wider view shows us that our motivation to cultivate plants are much deeper and richer than consumption and economics alone, in fact it would appear evident that living in union with nature is a pre-condition to happiness itself. This yearning to connect with the living world, to be included in the rhythm of life inspires us to seek beauty, balance and stability in the landscape about us.

Edible Landscaping is the creative union of the food producing plants within a sustainable usually pleasing residential landscape design.

Edible landscaping is at its best a holistic approach, it encourages us to view the landscape from a complete perspective where the health of the soil, of the plants and of the diverse life forms on which they depend and support are seen as interactive and essential.

One easy method to begin introducing edibles to the landscape is to simply substitute a food producing plant where you may have planted a strictly ornamental. For example, where you may have planted a burning bush, consider a grouping of high bush blueberries instead, the berries are delicious and the fall foliage is stunning.

The graceful form of a Japanese maple is easily matched by lacy blackish leaves of the Black Elderberry and the fruit are perfect for jelly, syrup and wine.

Add plantings of Bright Lights Swiss Chard, kale and lettuces in a mixed border with edible flowers such as calendula, violas and pansies or outline a meandering pathway with the soft feathery foliage of carrots.

Ever-bearing Alpine strawberries tolerate light shade making them ideal for woodland settings where their white flowers and bright red fruit will delight all summer long.

A sunny flagstone pathway trimmed and interlaced with Russian chamomile or creeping thyme becomes a fragrant carpet bordered perhaps by canes of raspberries.

Apple, pear, plum and cherry trees make great specimen plantings or mix them with other fruit bearing shrubs and vines to create a living privacy fence while also creating habitat for birds and pollinators.

In urban settings where space is limited, consider one or more of the many dwarf varieties of fruit trees or take a vertical approach planting climbers like grapes, kiwis, cucumbers, peas and beans.

Through Edible Landscaping the possibilities to reconnect with the food we eat and to embrace the natural world around us are virtually endless and the benefits are many.

  • Fresh, nutritious and incredibly tasteful herbs, vegetables, berries and fruit just steps away from the kitchen
  • Save money on food purchases while gaining access to a wider assortment of your favourite crops and varieties
  • Growing food at home is sustainable, it strengthens our food security by lessening our dependence on fossil fuels required to fertilize, process, refrigerate and transport commercially grown food.
  • Food gardening provides an array of natural learning opportunities for children in a healthful and physically active setting. The lessons of gardening emphasize direct experience and sensory learning; it provides the opportunity to ask and answer questions and develop a lifelong relationship with nature.
  • With the balanced, organic approach of edible landscaping the application of herbicides, pesticides and other synthetic treatments are entirely unnecessary. We know where our food has come from and that it is safe and nutritious
  • Naturalizing the landscape with a diverse mix of food producing plants enriches biodiversity providing habitat and nourishment for a complex community of life
  • Humanity has been shaped and adapted to life in close contact with nature. The mindful husbandry of soil and plants ennobles the human spirit and strengthens our psychological and physical connections to the world in which we live.

 

Peter LaPierre

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