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Blended Gardening

June 8, 2009 9:51:38 AM PDT
If you're thinking about growing your own fruits and vegetables, you might consider "blended gardening," says Tina Shaw, horticulturist from Botanic One Design in Glenview. It is the concept of combining beauty with functionality, all in one space. Rather than having your traditionally landscaped spaces, a separate vegetable garden, fruit garden, cut flower space, herb garden, etc, all of these elements are creatively blended within one given area. It is a growing trend this year as homeowners look to combine beauty and functionality, save money, be decorative and reduce their concerns about pesticides and food safety. When working with an existing landscape, this can be as easy as: edging your beds in lettuce, planting green beans or peas with your clematis, or planting a cherry tomato where you need a splash of seasonal color. When starting from scratch a landscape designer can provide a wealth of information and ideas for creating beautiful landscaped areas around the house while still incorporating easy edibles.

Why blended gardens?

  • ? Saves space - and can be done in small areas
  • ? Are economical - growing your own fruits, veggies and herbs saves a lot of money at the grocery
  • ? Food safety - growing in your backyard means you know exactly what went into producing that crop
  • ? Creates a sense of community - it is a great all summer bonding activity for families, the excess food that one family can't eat can be given to the local food pantry if they accept fresh produce.

Simple ways to start a blended garden:

Perennial veggies:

  • ? Asparagus: long life, once plant is past harvest time, spears grow into 4' tall ornamental ferns. For back of the border in sun.
  • ? Rhubarb: adds beautiful stem color and large foliage, discuss pros and cons
  • ? Serviceberry: Widely planted all over the city and suburbs, not many people know the fruit is edible and very tasty.

Annual Veggies:

  • ? Beans: Plant with your clematis or other flowering vines. Green, Wax, Scarlet runner beans all edible and ornamental. Very easy to grow from seed
  • ? Herbs like Dill or Fennel: If you have an Asiatic Lily patch, interplant with the dill or fennel. These will fill in and when lilies are spent you won't have a bare spot in the garden. Can be done with many herbs.
  • ? Greens: Grow as borders to the gardens, or if rabbits are an issue, create a salad window box.

Just for fun:

  • ? Golden Pineapple Sage: Fragrant, plant next to a walkway, beautiful red flowers in fall are edible
  • ? Mosquito plant: A scented geranium that helps repel mosquito's, discuss how to use

For more information visit www.botaniconedesign.com


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