By Jan Cashman • Posted on May, 15th 2017
We know what ‘landscaping’ means—we’ve heard of ‘xeriscapes’. But how about the word ‘foodscaping?’. Today, many of us are concerned about eating healthy. City lots are smaller—and homeowners want ‘curb appeal’. You can kill two birds with one stone by beautifying your yard with edible plants. Here are some plants that will make your yard not only beautiful but fruitful.
Not much is more beautiful that a fruit tree in full flower. Many apple varieties do well here in Bozeman. Try Chestnut Crabapple, a hardy tree covered in pure white blossoms in May. The 1 ½ to 2” apples have a distinctive nutty flavor. The glossy, dark green leaves of pear trees make them an attractive addition to your landscape. Lucsious, Ure, Patten and Parker are varieties of pears good for our climate and that produce lots of small but sweet pears.
Most of our plum trees are dwarfs so they don’t take up much room in your yard. Our most popular plum is called Mount Royal, a self-fertile variety with lots of delicious purple-skinned fruit.
There are many shrubs that are not only attractive in your yard but provide edible fruit. Honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea) thrive in adverse conditions and produce small, pear shaped blue fruit, high in antioxidants, that tastes a little like a blueberry and can be eaten fresh or used for jams, jellies, and pies. Two different varieties of honeyberries are needed for pollination.
The new Romance Series of hardy (Zone 2) self-fertile cherries developed at the University of Saskatchewan includes Romeo, Juliet, and Carmine Jewel varieties. The blackish-red fruit looks like a sweet cherry but is smaller. The fruit is sweet enough to be eaten fresh and makes wonderful juice. Its fragrant blossoms, glossy foliage, and small size make it a perfect accent tree or shrub in your landscape. As with most cherries, the attractive reddish-brown bark has interesting horizontal lenticels. These cherries produce abundant fruit high in antioxidants.
Instead of a flowering vine, plant a grape vine. Valiant is a hardy grape that grows well in our area. The fruit ripens earlier than other grapes, especially if planted in a hot, sunny spot.
Strawberry plants make a pretty and productive ground cover.
Tuck colorful lettuce plants into your flower bed; mix vegetables with flowers. The idea of companion plants has been around for years. Companion plants assist in the growth of nearby plants by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, and providing nutrients, shade, or support to their companions. My coworker, an organic gardener, combines sunflowers with cucumbers, violas with lettuce and savoy cabbages, melons with nasturtiums, and tomatoes with leaks, chives, or basil in her raised beds.
Herbs make good companions for many plants—their strong aromas repel many pests. And they’re beautiful, too. Try planting herbs in rows to divide areas or as a border. Create a formal affect by planting them in a design.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have much room, you can grow edible plants in containers. For more color in your pots, mix in a few annual flowers. Peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and herbs all grow well in containers. Even peas do well in a container if they have something to climb on.
Often one of our customers will say to me “I don’t want to plant anything unless I can eat it.” Foodscaping is the answer!