This article originally appeared in the May/June 2016 issue of Northern Gardener.
Combining the edible with the ornamental has become the goal of many gardeners, especially those who garden next to neighbors. Vermont gardener Charlie Nardozzi calls this style of gardening foodscaping (food + landscape). In this, his fourth gardening book, Foodscaping (Cool Springs Press, 2016), Nardozzi explains the mechanics of creating a foodscape and offers 40 of his favorite ornamental edibles.
His suggestions range from the nearly ubiquitous—chard and kale—to the surprising: Daylilies are edible? He includes many fruits that he notes would have to move inside (but let’s not call them in-edibles) for the winter in our climate. Each suggestion includes information on planting, growing and harvesting along with the most attractive varieties and plants that would be good companions. The information is accompanied by mouth-watering photos.
Nardozzi explains gardening fundamentals (soil, sunlight and water issues) well enough to get a beginner off to a good start. He briefly describes composting, soil testing and dealing with pests. He also outlines his philosophy of garden design and how to apply it to your potential foodscape.
He offers plentiful options for adapting the idea to existing gardens, such as adding containers, using vertical gardening tricks and interspersing edibles among perennials. Perhaps most useful are his suggestions for the beautiful edible plants, shrubs and trees that could be swapped in for more commonplace, nonedible landscape plants that may already be in your yard.
The bountiful photos and clear text would make this a nice gift for novices, but if you’re interested in adding tasty beauty to your gardens, you might want to keep it for yourself.