When one hears ‘edible garden’, one might think of a vegetable plot or mint in a large pot, but there is a much greater range of options than that for an edible garden. This landscape in Acton, MA is an entirely edible garden, creating both a beautiful and productive yard filled with a variety of colors and textures. On this site traditional raised vegetable bed are designed to match a central cedar pergola, while bluestone paths highlight gateways through the young espalier fruit trees forming a natural boundary between the social area and the lawn; a lawn which has been turned into an orchard of fruit-bearing trees. Sage, parsley, and savory wrap around a greenhouse, replacing seasonal flowers with annual and perennial edibles. Thyme peaks up between spaces in a curving bluestone path, replacing typical groundcover and planted joints with an experience for the senses by using fresh herbs underfoot.

Edible gardens can take traditional planting styles and give them an additional practical twist. Many popular flowers have edible petals such as certain breeds of nasturtiums, squash, orchids, and day lilies. Tulips and sunflowers were planted by a wall on this site to take advantage of a white background and help disguise the building. This landscape even incorporated a small field of corn to add height, color, and interest in a corner of the yard creating a visual transition from the towering woods to the low lawn. Not only has this edible garden provided aesthetic appeal with colors and textures, it’s also provided privacy and added entertainment and nutritional value when visitors to the pergola sample the fresh cherry tomatoes.

These plant choice can transition from year to year as well. During the first year of this garden, beans and thyme were planted along the young espalier Asian Pear and Bradford Pear trees. For year 2, however, the planting selection was changed to strawberries and oregano, with a line of marigolds to naturally deter insect predators. A bed of cutting flowers was added to bring outdoor colors indoors, creating a bit of wild beauty and an attractive space for pollinators near the fruits and vegetables.

There are many options for incorporating edibles in your own landscapes or turning your whole yard into an edible garden. With the great variety of edibles, they can be utilized as ground covers, edging shrubs, boarder hedges, accents or centerpieces and they don’t all have to be planted in rows in raised beds. You may even find that you have a few tasty treats in your garden already.  Check out this project on our website to learn more about edible gardens and other productive landscape strategies. http://offshootsinc.com/project/acton-agrarian/