With many people suddenly spending a lot more time at home, 2020 saw a resurgence of home gardening – both as a hobby, and as a means of putting fresh food on the table. But you don’t have to dig up your landscaping and plant rows of carrots and potatoes to join in – there are plenty of beautiful, edible plant species that pull double-duty as both décor and dinner. Many of these are also great for garden-to-grill dinners for your outdoor kitchen. Our top picks:
Eggplant produces attractive pink, star-shaped flowers followed by impressively colored fruit – ranging in color from the commonly known deep purple, to lavender, green, white and even orange. The bush can reach up to four feet tall depending on the variety, and is naturally deer-resistant due to its scratchy leaves.
There are hundreds of plants with edible petals and buds that not only make a beautiful addition to your landscaping, they can add color and unexpected new flavors to your meals. Some common choices are hibiscus, lavender, nasturtium, chamomile, chicory, cornflower and daylilies.
The buds of the hearty artichoke plant can be harvested before they bloom for a show-stopping appetizer or side dish, or you can leave them to open into spectacular purple blooms. They’re naturally rabbit-proof too, as the buds tend to grow several feet off of the ground. And if you’ve never tried grilled artichoke, you’re missing out!
Beans are a great choice for adding some greenery to a pergola or trestle. These enthusiastic climbers grow high and hang like vines, creating a beautiful garden effect. Most bean plants also flower, so they can add a pop of color to your outdoor living space as well. For best results grilling your beans, try blanching them first.
A relative of landscaping staples rhododendron and azalea, blueberry bushes do more than just offer up tasty fruit – they produce beautiful scarlet foliage in the fall and creamy-white, bell-shaped flowers in the spring. Plus, the berries are a superfood, packed with essential nutrients, minerals and health-boosting polyphenols. For a garden-to-grill idea with blueberries, try a Grilled Dessert Pizza.
Dwarf Fruit Trees
Cherries, peaches, lemons, oranges, apples – you too can become a fruit farmer, with only a corner of your patio committed to the project. Dwarf fruit trees thrive in pots, and produce beautiful flowers in addition to bearing (full-size) fruit typically within the first couple of years. And if you think you can’t put fruit on the grill, think again! Many types of fruit — particularly bananas, watermelon and stone fruits — are very tasty when grilled, as the process ads a smoky texture and caramelizes the natural sugars.
Maximizing your landscape with fruits and veggies offers you the best of both worlds: a lovely looking yard, and also the pride of eating something you’ve grown. Chat with your contractor (or for DIY types, your local nursery) when planning your landscape project to see if edible plants are a good choice for your space.