Combining Vegetables and Flowers in Your Garden
Whether you have a garden, a patio or a windowsill, you can grow your own delicious fresh vegetables. Fast-maturing crops make decorative displays in pots and look fabulous when combined with flowers, while a potager-style plot brimming with ornamentals and edibles is ideal for a small garden. Use these ideas to inspire your planting, so you can enjoy your vegetables before they even reach your plate.
Vigorous, trailing plants, such as these squashes, might seem too large for a small garden. However, if they are trained along the front of an established border, or even over mature shrubs, their bold yellow flowers, dramatic foliage, and colorful fruit look great spilling over onto the path. Add plenty of organic matter to the soil in established borders to provide the vegetables with sufficient nutrients to grow well.
A simple sowing of summer annuals creates a vibrant, meadowlike effect surrounding a carefully planned bed of purple- and blue-green- leaved vegetables. As well as looking good, the daisylike flowers will attract many beneficial insects to the plot to pollinate crops and prey on pests. Cabbages, leeks and different varieties of kale will continue the display through fall and winter.
Climbing vegetables are ideal where space is limited because they will produce a big crop from a small patch of soil. In this border, a wigwam of runner beans towers over dwarf French beans and the feathery foliage of carrots, while nasturtiums, yellow marigolds and a pot of petunias add welcome color. The silvery, thistlelike foliage of perennial globe artichokes gives permanent structure to the border, while its flower buds make a delicious dish.
Planting crops to form decorative patterns is a great way to add interest and it needn't take up much space. Here, a central tree is surrounded by a circular bed of herbs, then concentric rings of salad leaves, carrots, onions and additional herbs, with paths in between for easy access. Make the most of the colorful varieties of lettuce available to brighten up the garden and the salad bowl.
Text copyright 2007 Royal Horticultural Society