Ornamental Edibles Or Pretty Tasty

november-14-2008-macro-096Trying to join in the fun with Nan Ondra and the gang over at Gardening Gone Wild with this month’s garden blogger’s design workshop theme of “Incorporating Edibles” has been a head scratcher. Our edibles are unincorporated here, growing in the best soil and sunniest spot we have, between the hedges at the back of the property. They are so not part of the design scheme, they are totally hidden from view. But there are a couple of edibles thatย we do useย as ornamentals. Widely used is the upright rosemary. We did a post about this woody evergreen herb that can be read by clicking here. The above shot shows the sky blue flower color well that most of our bushes wear for many months beginning around late fall. There is also a near white bloomer on a more gangly growing shrub not shown.november-14-2008-macro-092The path to the arbor is lined with rosemary and lavender. Realizing that these sometimes tender natives from the Mediterranean would winter over here in zone 7 Tennessee was cause for celebration. Our other house in the same state was colder and wetter and inhospitable to them. Trying to grab your attention in the above shot is a stray branch from the ninebark Summer Wine. This is not about you today, Winey.november-11-2008-canon-005There are three seperate plants along this row, planted as tiny four inch potted herbs in the spring of 2001. They must be pruned hard on the path side or there would be no getting through. We have recently started using the trimmings to block the hungry rabbits and demon squirrels by making fortresses around newly planted seeds and bulbs. It is working so far too. The little lavenders are going to have to be moved before the rosemarys engulf them forever.november-14-2008-macro-117Ornamental kales are still edibles, aren’t they? It was Nan again who brought to our attention how easy these were to grow from seed. Redbor kale has proven to be easy and lovely. It was very attractive to the cabbage white butterfly larva too, being a holey mess most of the year. Since those pests are now asleep the leaves can become the ruffled masterpieces they were intended.november-14-2008-macro-115Planted from seed in outdoor pots last fall was Nagoya Garnish Red kale along with the Redbor. Only one plant of this made it into the garden and was decimated by the worms until recently.november-17-2008-014Frost becomes it.november-14-2008-macro-095Ruby chard’s charms have been used each year for both eating and looking. The bright stalks and deeply veined leaves provide the best kind of winter interest, red!november-17-2008-020Darkened but not down, these large leaves will stand up to winter’s winds and cold well.november-17-2008-051Since they did not specify human edibles only, this shot of a wind blown male cardinal hanging onto the berry laden pyracantha is a good example of ornament in the garden. (Please ignore the appalling satellite dish.)
This should qualify also for Tina of In The Garden’s monthly veggie post on the 20th, don’t you agree?

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34 Responses to Ornamental Edibles Or Pretty Tasty

  1. Jan says:

    Love the frost ladden kale photo, and the satellite dish seems to frame the cardinal making him stand out better.

    Always Growing

    Hi Jan, thanks. I love to try and capture our frosts on the plants. I hate when that dish gets into the photos, usually trying to crop it out, it detracts from the ambiance, but the cardinal looked to cute hanging on in the high wind. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Zoe says:

    I think the satellite dish helps show off his fabulous plumage!

    Adding edibles to borders is something I have been trying of late, although the scheme is still in its infancy and on the back burner since I became ill, I have been trying to create a Potager, inspired by the one near me at West Green House. Joy Larcom’s book Creative VEGETABLE gardening, and also Marylyn Abbott’s books (she created and lives at West Green) give lots of inspiring ideas which can be easily replicated. One of the things I have found most successful is to use trained fruit trees to create partitions and divides to try and effectively create rooms within the garden. I am growing herbs amongst the roses, and some will attempt a more formalised vegetable garden in the next year or so based on ideas gleaned from visiting such gardens, and also from the books mentioned. Wish me luck!

    Hi Zoe, your garden potager plans sound a delight. It makes me wish I could start over with mine with the fruit trees and seperate rooms. Thanks for recommending those books to help with the inspiration, I will check them out. So fun to have a real garden close by that you can get some ideas from also. Of course I wish you all kinds of luck with all of your endeavors! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Cindy says:

    Great closeup shots! I especially like the second kale shot. It looks like something from the depths of the ocean. And I didn’t know how easy it was to do from seed. I will have to do that next year. I so wanted some this year but couldn’t find any when I wanted it. I will also have to try your rosemary rabbit fencing.

    Hi Cindy, thanks. The new settings on the macro really like that kale. Funny about the kale, last fall I scattered the seeds over the containers that were planted with bulbs and the loved the cooler temps. I had so many babies that most were just discarded because the pot would have been too crowded. I should have planted them in the ground. They looked awful all summer because of the caterpillars damage and now look pretty good but are on long skinny stalks, not shown in the photos, HA. Good luck with the rosemary, so far so good here.

  4. meems says:

    Must check out Tina’s monthly veg plot… and yes, I vote that your post counts. Very nice ornamentals. I noticed Rosemary often when visiting TN in October. It must like your zone quite well. The kale is so pretty and the red-veined chard is a favorite to see in gardens. I don’t have either, however… (note to self for next spring? or fall? do research first) The frosty photos make a nice picture, too. Great post, Frances. Enjoy your day. Meems @ Hoe&Shovel

    Hi Meems, thanks for that vote. I don’t have enough material for a seperate veggie post this month at all. Rosemary performs so well here, it is a pleasant surprise to me. We grew it in southern California and it loved the sandy soil and warm temps, not the conditions here at all. BTW, I love the look of your blog now!

  5. Gail says:

    Good morning Frances… Yes, I would say that this post qualifies for both…and a very nice one, too. I love the kale and chard photos….brilliant color that pops. The cardinal is looking at you and wondering what you are up to now! C&L’s lack of sunny beds and not so fantastic soil would make it difficult to incorporate many edibles…but this year I tried parsley in a semi-shady spot and it worked beautifully….of course I grew it for the caterpillars not for culinary uses…I wonder if our violas are edible…Johnny Jump-ups are? Lots to think about and google! Have a good day…looks like more cold is heading our way! Keep warm. Gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. The cardinal does have a humorous look about him too. That shot was taken on the very windy cold day we had a couple of days ago, poor thing. Raised beds are what you might need for veggies, they are so fun to plant in, no rocks! I have used the violas in salads, along with nastursiums. The kids were not impressed, but my lady friends were delighted. Still cold here too but less so that yesterday. A good day to work in the garden!

  6. Randy says:

    You are quite the photog! I love the red, is is one of your favorite colors?

    Hi Randy, thanks so much. I really avoided red for the longest time, but now see, with the wisdom of age, its merits in the garden. Especially in the black garden, it is the perfect companion to the dark leaf plants.

  7. Marnie says:

    The kale is gorgeous with the frost crystals decorating it’s leaves. I’ve never tried to grow it because of the cabbage butterflies.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. The frost is fleeting once the sun comes up so I have to bundle up to get those shots, Frosts up my glasses when I come back in the warm house! Those caterpillars are terrible and I refused to spray so have given up on growing the brassicas sadly. These kales have bounced back happily. I will plant them again.

  8. Dave says:

    The rosemary is a perfect example of an ornamental edible! I was going to do my post for it on that too. Great minds think alike. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The kale pictures are terrific. Very good quality shots form your camera!

    Hi Dave, thanks, I look forward to seeing your rosemary post, it is such a great garden performer. We do like to pinch some of it for potato dishes too. Another thing we have done is to make little brushes with it tying several bits to a longer branch and brush sauce on anything grilling, it would be fun for your little one to help make them too. I got lucky on the rosemary bloom shot, that is a hard one to capture.

  9. The kale and chard photos are so pretty. The cardinal coordinates well with the berries!

    I passed up that workshop on edibles because I can’t grow veggies without a fortress and moat to keep the deer out…but, I do have lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel, and chives. The deer recently decided to eat the chives (first time they’ve done that).


    Hi Cameron, thanks, it sounds like you grow enough ornamental edibles for a great post!

  10. Jen says:

    Well, I would like to send a little greeting out to Winey, even though she’s not edible, she’s pretty splendid today ๐Ÿ™‚ And the color of that kale is knocking me out – wow!
    Why do you think the rosemary outgrew the lavendar so much? I’m envious of you being able to overwinter them. They don’t do too well in the ground here in NY.

    Hi Jen, thanks and welcome. Winey was a winner this summer, her first one here, and she appreciates your greeting. I think the lavender is a smaller variety, Hidcote I believe. The rosemarys just go crazy here but the lavenders struggle for some reason. The kale has darkened with the cold and is looking pretty right now.

  11. Rose says:

    The kale is beautiful, especially covered with frost! It’s nice that you provided some food for the cabbage moths, but that they recovered to provide some blooms for these cold days. I like the red Swiss chard, too–how do you cook it, Frances?

    I thought the cardinal was painted on a plate:)

    Hi Rose, thanks, and yes, wasn’t it nice of me to feed those moths! I used to feed them cabbage and brussels sprouts too, but they didn’t leave any for us! I cut the leaves and remove the center veins then coursely chop and saute in a little butter or olive oil. At that point I might freeze it to throw into soups later. Or just add it to whatever I’m cooking. I like to have a big mix of veggies, some cubed meat and rice or pasta in a light sauce, tomato or a can of creamed soup like mushroom and bake it. Easy, healthy and tasty. So funny about the cardinal!


  12. tina says:

    Good morning! You are so clever and your pictures good enough to eat:) Even that cardinal. I kind of thought the dish behind him was what we would serve him up on. In a metaphorical sense of course:) I have your link. I was browsing a seed catalog last night, and I can say I have never ordered seeds from specialty places or catalogs, but listening to all the seeds you order and the neat things you have I have decided to try it. My first purchase? Chard of course! I’ve been loving yours since last year. Have a great day! I have a new garden to plant.

    Hi Tina, thanks. Lucky you with a new bed, I am jealous. The only way I can get a new bed now would be to rip on old one out and start over. I might do that closer to spring. I love to spread the wealth and order from smaller places. Renee’s is a good one. The chard will give you lots to eat and prettify your garden too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Ohh what pretty Kale you have! Love the ruffles. I wish we had cardinals out here on the west coast, he is such a pretty bird! Great post…as always! Kim

    Hi Kim, thanks so much for those kind words. Knowing that our ubiquitous cardinals are not seen in some places makes us want to show them on the blog a little more. They do show up well in the winter garden too. I will try more of that kale, I like the ruffles too.

  14. Darla says:

    Beautiful photos, love the frost on the plants. I have rosemary and love to brush up against it to have the smell float through the air. Didn’t know ornamental kale was edible?

    Hi Darla, thanks. I googled to make sure before answering you about the kale, it is edible. The ornamentals are varieites of cabbage and kale that were selected by the breeders for color and form, but not taste! They may be more bitter than the culinary types, which are bred for taste and ease of growing for commercial farms.

  15. Kathleen says:

    You are wielding that camera about like a pro Frances. Love the ruffly shots of the kale & ornamental cabbage. The green & red Chard is quite striking too. I am pondering a Rosemary but wonder at its hardiness here. Thinking the odds are not good. I have zero edibles in my garden ~ another thing to work on for next season.

    Hi Kathleen, high praise coming from a photographer of your caliber, thanks! It is still more luck than anything I am doing. You won’t know if you don’t try on the rosemary, drainage is key. They are so cheap in the spring, sold as tiny things with the herbs. All of mine were very small when planted, that might help them get a good root system before winter comes too. I would not plant one outside right now. Nan has inspired me to search out that merlot red lettuce, it looks so outstanding in her garden, I might not even eat it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Barbarapc says:

    Frances, had to look twice – thought that was a photo of a plate with a bird painted on it – very neat shot. The close-ups of the kale and chard are wonderful. Also found it interesting to learn when you planted your kale – we usually buy our ornamental kales fully grown as they’re too piddly to display even if we start them inside.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, you are the second person to say that about the bird and dish, how funny, and you are both right now that I look at it like that! As a note, those kale plants are a year old! I wonder when the commercial growers start theirs to sell them as large plants this time of year?

  17. skeeter says:

    The Kale and Chard look as though you sprinkled them with water and dipped them into sugar! The frost is really neat on them. The dish looks like a mat around the beautiful birdie in a picture frame….

    Great veggie day posting! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Skeeter, thanks so much, not really very veggie though. Frost is just like you say. It is gone as soon as the sun hits here, so much the better. Funny about the dish and the cardinal, I almost deleted it because of the dish!

  18. walk2write says:

    I am going to miss being able to grow rosemary here in Illinois. It has been growing great in Florida for me for the last couple of years because of the drought in the NW part. Except for one clump that for some reason fell prey to the fire ants. I am still puzzled about it. It just suddenly turned brown, in a matter of a few days, and I discovered a huge mound of the ants living beneath it. I doused ’em good with diatomaceous earth. Boy, did that feel wonderful! I normally don’t enjoy watching things die, but I make a big exception for fire ants. That cardinal looks great against the background of the dish. He was probably trying to find some shelter from the wind.

    Hi W2W, thanks. Maybe you can grow the rosemary as a potted plant and bring it inside in a cool spot during the winter. That’s what I had to do when we lived in the other TN house. Very little water for it, but don’t let it dry out completely or it will die overnight! A fine line that. I do hate the fire ants too, we had them in Houston. I was bit so many times that I feel sure there must be some good to come of it, an immunity from all the venom injected into me. What else could be their purpose on earth? ๐Ÿ™‚ You are probably right about the cardinal, they often sit in that spot.

  19. Oh..Frances my favorit topic THE EDIBLES and the ornamental edibles in particular. Those Ruby chards look so lovely. I almost fell of my chair when I saw that male cardinal I have never seen such a lovely male ๐Ÿ™‚ bird. / Tyra

    Hi Tyra, you are so funny, and thanks for that! The cardinals are such a common bird here, but there color really lights up the wintry garden. He was being blown by a strong wind, poor guy!

  20. Patsi says:

    Cleaver and yummy topic !!
    I have to spend more time exploring your blog…you have a lot to offer.

    Hi Patsi, thanks so much for that. Please feel free to explore all you want, that’s why we started the blog, to share!

  21. linda says:

    Hi Frances, your photos are just gorgeous! I love the frosty ones especially.

    I grew veggies in my sunny perennial borders at my last house. That was my favorite way to grow them – right in with all the other plants. We don’t have the right spot for doing that here, except I am able to grow some herbs in the little bit of sun we have. I like how you’ve incorporated some ornamental edibles into your gardens in addition to your unincorporated, dedicated veggie bed.

    Hi Linda, thanks for that. Sounds like you were following Nan’s design system by mixing the edibles and ornamentals before that was cool. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am looking forward to trying her red lettuce, Merlot, in with the grasses.

  22. Brenda Kula says:

    Hey, I have pansies. Aren’t they edible?

    Hi Brenda, absolutely, unless you sprayed them with some kind of poison, and of course you wouldn’t do that. That would have been a smart way to join in!

  23. Chloe.M says:

    Really gorgeous shot of the Rosemary in the first photo.

    And since I have ‘Winey’ (Ninebark) too, I appreciated your admonitory comment to her.

    Chloe M.

    Hi Chloe, thanks so much. I was pleasantly surprised with the rosemary flower photo. I have been trying to get a good one for over a year now. I am impressed with Winey, she was newly planted last fall and has been an excellent addition to the black garden. She may get a feature story later on, in spring maybe.

  24. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Way to go Frances. Some beautiful shots of edibles in your garden.

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much. Still working on those camera settings. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. hayefield says:

    I am *so* envious of your abundance of rosemary, Frances. Starting with a single potted sprig each spring doesn’t make for a much of a harvest up here in PA.

    I was fascinated to read that the cabbageworms attacked your ‘Redbor’ kale. Here, they chew on pretty much every cabbage-family plant, but ‘Redbor’ is almost always left alone. Go figure!
    -Nan Ondra

    Hi Nan, thanks. We are wealthy in that herb, I love it too. We did see rosemary growing in a garden in north central PA on a tour one time that was perennial there. It was up against the house in a sheltered location. The worms had nothing else to attack here, maybe that is why they went after the rebor, although the nagoya took the greater hit. Maybe I need to plant a cabbage crop just to distract them! I would love to plant the brassicas but don’t want to spray so have given up, do you have any ideas other than sprays?

  26. Amy says:

    I love the vibrant red of your ruby chard. Last year I grew several red cabbages, and they were so pretty that I’ve often thought it would be fun to plant some among my flowers ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Amy, thanks. I think the chard is one of the best ornamental edibles we can grow here with those bright colors. I have seed for the golden lights cultivar for next year too. The red cabbages are beautiful until the worms start in on them, then not so much. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  27. layanee says:

    Now I am hungry! Swiss chard is so beautiful, almost too beautiful to eat.

    Hi Layanee, sorry! I see you are growing it under your coverings too, hooray. Our bodies need those fresh greens in winter.

  28. Jean says:

    I have a rosemary that’s really getting out of bounds and squirrels who are trying my patience. So thanks for the tip about barricading the new plants with rosemary.

    I’ve been scratching my head about the same GGW post as well. The way I incorporate them is not by design, just by where they’ll work best. And it’s mostly herbs. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who does it that way!

    Great photos as usual, btw.

    Hi Jean, so far the rosemary barricades have been a deterrent. Wish I had thought of it sooner as we have so many clippings. I think it is working for the neighborhood cats too, who consider newly bare ground an invitation to do a little digging, and more. Helps to save the seeds that have been sown, poppies so far, then larkspur later. I do need to think more about design and will try in the future. Not just where will this thing I just bought fit in and grow, but how will it fit into the grand scheme. Thanks for the kind words.

  29. Racquel says:

    Your edibles are not only tasty but very pretty too! I always forget how pretty veggies like Kale, Rhubarb & Cabbage can be at this time of the year. Looks like you did a great two-fer post today. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Racquel, thanks. I have never grown rhubarb but do think it has pretty color. The downside to the cabbages in the summer are those caterpillars, not a problem now though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Shibaguyz says:

    Great job on your edibles… you KNOW we’re all about the edibles. We just wish our chard and kale looked as fantastic as yours does! Great job!

    Thanks Guyz, you two sure are all about edibles. I envy your focus on feeding yourselves from your garden and promise to devote more of mine to that also. You are my role models!

  31. Anne says:

    Delightful post! and the sight of the cardinal was especially pleasing; I really like the natural look of the photo… although at first i thought it was a plate painted with a cardinal!

    Hi Anne, thanks. The wind was blowing so hard that morning, it affected the focus but I was pleased with the ruffled feathers on him. So many thought it was a plate too, amazing!

  32. hayefield says:

    Hey again, Frances. As a follow-up to your question about controlling cabbage-family caterpillars without sprays…well, I try to hand-pick or -squish as many as possible. But when they get bad, you can either try to ignore the damage (as I usually do) or resort to spraying with Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (BTK).

    Hi Nan, thanks for the follow up. Looks like the cabbage white has won the battle here, I will just have to put up with holey plants. But that’s okay.

  33. Lorene says:

    Dear Frances,
    I’m new to your site but what a treat visually. I am a garden writer who specializes in all things garden and edible, the more ornamental the better. We city gardeners so often have to cram everything together, and yes, often refine our definition of “growing vegetables”…hey, herbs, day lilies, violas – they might not make someone’s top 10 veggie list but they’re edible and beautiful as well. I’m currently looking for images of ornamental edibles for a series of projects I am working on. I hope you will get in contact with me to discuss your beautiful pictures!

    Hi Lorene, thanks and welcome. We do have to include edibles in with the ornamentals here, space prohibits seperate spaces to some extent. I will contact you soon!

  34. Pingback: Fall Container Gardening With Edibles « Fairegarden

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