A Garden of Edible Delights

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Oh, my aching muscles...

By Pamela Richards

Savor a summer salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato grown in your garden, with a sprinkling of orange nasturtium petals across the top.  Grow honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) on a trellis and strawberries as a ground cover and combine the flowers and fruit for a sorbet.  Enhance steamed green beans with the complimentary taste and color of tulip petals.  Line a sunny path with lavender and use the flowers and leaves to flavor sugar.

Create a garden of edibles.  Contain the area with a fence of espaliered fruit trees:  you will have fruit, spring flowers, summer green and winter pattern.  Plant a lilac near the back door and add the flowers to frozen yogurt.  Back the colors of a summer garden with a black-leafed elderberry and use the flowers to flavor vinegar.

Scatter painted wooden obelisks throughout to support beans, peas and tomatoes.  Tall hibiscus and hollyhocks would enhance the obelisks, and the flowers of both are edible:  make hibiscus tea and combine hollyhock petals with pears for a salad.  Compliment these verticals with daylilies, and use the buds and flowers in soups.

In the fall , the leaves of many blueberries turn red or yellow.  Grow colorful squash nearby and perhaps one or two crabapples, their branches hung with tiny red or yellow fruit; (in the spring use the flower petals in a Waldorf salad).

Mums and sunflowers add fall color and edible flowers:  include chrysanthemum petals in a stir-fry of bean sprouts and peppers, and sunflower petals and seeds combine with chives, garlic and other ingredients in a pasta dish.

Vegetables, fruit trees and shrubs, and most edible shrubs and perennials enjoy rich soil and need supplemental water.  Fertilizers and soil amendments need to be organic.  Good air circulation, desirable insects and bees will help keep the garden healthy and productive.

Drought-tolerant, sun-loving herbs could join the lavender along the path.  Rosemary and thyme are evergreen, providing color and scent all year.  Rosemary flowers embellish chicken, lamb and veal; and the flowers of thyme blend into soft cheeses and butter.

The center of the garden should be a patio with a table for meals and comfortable seating for meal planning.  Decorate the patio with containers of annuals and vegetables.  Lettuce sown  in a pot can be harvested all summer.  Basil provides color and pesto.  From September through April winter pansies (Viola wittrockiana) offer flower petals to be candied and used on desserts.

For scent plant pinks, fennel, hyssop and roses near the patio.  Underplant the roses with chives and Allium tuberosum,  which will help keep the roses healthy and provide flowers.  On a summer evening, serve salmon cooked with fennel.  Start with a cold drink embellished with hyssop petals.  Include a salad of lettuce and rose petals.  Add chive florets to butter melting over a vegetable.  For dessert, decorate some crème frâiche with vibrant pink and red petals of pinks (Dianthus) and spoon it over fruit.  Sit in the midst of your garden and dine on your delightful edibles.

Pamela Richards is a Seattle-area garden designer, 206-781-2314,


Your garden can satisfy all the senses! istock

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