Coming up this Sunday, April 3rd, we will begin another season of Sunday workshops. We are very excited for our first class “Eating Ornamentally” which will be taught by Willi Galloway. This is her first time speaking at Joy Creek and we are very happy to have her. I was trying to put together a quick bio for Willi but that seems to be impossible because she is teaching, talking, editing, and writing is so many venues that I don’t have the space. Her blog DigginFood is beautiful and a great place to find out more about her and all the projects she is up to. Luckily she had time to answer a few questions about integrating vegetables and ornamental plants into a beautiful garden that you can also eat.
What are a few of your favorite vegetables for ornamental use?
I love peas with colored blossoms, such as ‘Golden India’ snow pea because their height makes them a great focal point, they have beautiful flowers and of course you get to eat them. Squash are also extremely ornamental because they have these huge, lush leaves, big, bright yellow flowers, and such a range of fruit. I like to grow bush summer squash plants because their upright leaves are so architectural and I often train vining types up fences and trellises.
Is there a particular ornamental/edible combination you love?
Last year I saw Tuscan black kale planted at the center of an urn with bacopa and calibrachoa spilling over the side. It looked phenomenal. Sedums and French or English thyme look pretty when inter-planted alongside a pathway. I spotted one of my favorite combos–artichokes underplanted with black mondo grass–in a Tracy DiSabato-Aust book. Basil also looks amazing in a tropical-looking planting with coleus, canna, and hardy banana.
When you decide to start moving vegetables out of the vegetable bed and out into the garden, where is the best place to start?
Whenever your planting edibles, it is important to start with food you like to eat. Then look for varieties that have wonderful texture or variegation in their leaves, colorful blossoms, and fruit, or an architectural form. Plants with chartreuse foliage like ‘Golden Alexandria’ strawberry, ‘Golden Jubilee’ agastache, or ‘Australian Yellow Leaf’ lettuce look like a bright light in the landscape. Also, placing a teuteur or trellis in an ornamental bed and then training peas, beans, squash or cucumbers up it is simple and provides an unexpected element.
In container planting, what vegetables have you found work well as ornamentals?
Basil is a great substitute for coleus and other annual foliage plants. There are so many varieties and a huge range of leaf shapes and sizes. Eggplant is a beautiful edible to place at the center of a pot because it has soft grey green leaves, amazing flowers, and pretty fruit. A cucumber plant spilling over the side of a pot looks really dramatic, especially when the fruit are dangling off the vine like ornaments.
I would like to thank Willi Galloway for her time and invite everyone out to her class at one this coming Sunday, April 3.