Tired of the same old borders and seasonal color for fall, winter, and early spring? If you’re looking for some fresh garden inspiration this fall, then you may want to turn to edibles. Wait, you can plant edibles in the ornamental garden? Absolutely! Many edible plants are also beautiful ornamentals and can be used in place of, or as complements to, traditional annual color. Plus, you get the added bonus of harvesting and eating some of your beautiful bounty.
Fall is a great time to plant any cool season edible such as leafy greens, herbs and Cole crops.What are Cole crops? Those of us in the horticulture world often refer to related plants such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts as Cole crops. You may be most familiar with using plants like kale as ornamentals, as they’re available in a variety of beautiful foliage colors. Did you know that when allowed to flower, broccoli plants produce a bounty of bright lemon-yellow blooms in late winter and early spring? They can provide a pop of unexpected color in your winter garden.
Leafy greens are tough, beautiful and very easy to grow. You can plant leafy greens as borders in your perennial garden or add them to planters with pansies and violas. Right now you can plant kale, Swiss chard, and salad greens. Varieties such as Dinosaur Kale and Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ create unexpected color and texture among seasonal blooms such as snapdragons, lobelia and Iceland poppies. Remember that foliage is an important part of a successful garden design; when plants are out of flower, you’ll need beautiful foliage to fall back on.
There are many cool season herbs that are stunningly beautiful in the ornamental garden. Bronze fennel is one of our favorites, as it offers up feathery bronze colored foliage through the winter and large yellow blooms in spring. Its close cousin Dill does the same but with bright bluish green foliage. Both are perfect companions for kale, pansies and violas. They also look beautiful the following spring when planted as companions for roses and other early blooming perennials. Want a shock of bright green in the winter garden? Curly parsley grows in beautiful bright green mounds that make the perfect backdrop for seasonal color and filler for winter containers.
Oregano, chives and rosemary are excellent perennial herbs you can enjoy year-round. Oregano blooms in spring and sports evergreen foliage through the rest of the year. Chives offer up grass-like bright green foliage in spring followed by spikes of pompom shaped blooms in summer and early fall. Rosemary is the workhorse of the garden, providing evergreen aromatic foliage and tiny blue flowers sporadically throughout the year. Best thing about incorporating herbs into your ornamental garden? You’ll never have to run to the grocery store for fresh herbs!
Garden tip:Plant herbs in containers near your kitchen entry so you’ll always have fresh flavors for recipes and even cocktails. Cool season vegetables and herbs make the perfect foliage foundation for containers that look great all winter long.
Don’t forget about fruit trees. Most fruit trees put on a bounty of beautiful spring blooms that provide a cheerful welcome to spring. Fruit trees are best planted in fall in our climate. Pear, peach, persimmon, fig and pomegranate are all excellent fruit trees for the Houston area. There are many new dwarf fruit trees to choose from for smaller urban spaces.
Unsure which flavors might be best suited to your landscape? We can plan an easy-maintenance design with edible selections that work well for you, your family and your lifestyle!