Ornamental Edibles



THE DREAMING CONTINUES…the stack of gardening books on my coffee table grows…the sketches of my garden-to-come (six days ’til closing!) proliferate. I’ve realized that the area I’m considering for a vegetable patch — the only cleared, and hence sunny, area on the property at the moment — and my front entry garden, just inside the future parking court, are one and the same. It’s also the spot — quite a large spot, roughly 1,000 square feet — that forms the front ‘yard’ and view from the future guest cottage, as well as being the central circulation core of the entire property (yes, all 1/2 acre of it).

So this space needs to function on many levels, including directing people toward the house, and not toward the compost heap, when they step out of the car. And of course, it needs to look good.


These musings led me to Google ‘ornamental edible garden’ (and order a couple more books on the subject). I’d read about how veggies/herbs, flowers, and other plants were combined at  Mount Vernon and Monticello (and before that, in the cottage gardens of European peasants). I’m a great admirer of the attractive edibles garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, above, which seems to thrive into the winter with snazzy diagonal rows of spinach and kale and parsley going strong. And my Internet explorations revealed that ornamental edibles are a super-trendy trend in both urban and rural settings, with blogs aplenty devoted to them.

I’m a newbie at vegetable gardening. My only experience is a semi-successful tomato patch at my prior Brooklyn rental in Boerum Hill, where I planted way too many tomato starters in two 4’x8′ raised beds and spent much of the summer trying to keep them under control, but also got some very tasty tomatoes.

So I have a load of questions and concerns. First, what will such a garden look like in the off-season? Pretty uninspiring, I should think, covered mostly with mulch. It will need some evergreen structure. Second, vegetable gardens need a lot of water. How sustainable is that? Am I prepared to irrigate or hand-water intensively through the summer? Is my well? Third, how do vegetable beds jibe with my overarching concept of a Japanese-inspired garden? I’ve Googled ‘Japanese vegetable garden,’ you can be sure, but came up with not much more than how to grow Japanese vegetables.

Herewith, some photos from other sites, each with ideas I can glean for my purposes. As always, your thoughts are most welcome.


How gorgeous is this? Brick paths between wedge-shaped beds…there’s a massive pile of brick behind the house that I’ve wondered what to do with, but it’s labor-intensive to lay and perhaps not in keeping with the rustic materials palette (gravel, wood chips) I had in mind.


Eileen+NEW_GARDEN_2_2011_007rocklandmastergardener.blogspot.com. This one rises out of the lawn (I’m not planning on any lawn — none), but I relate to how it’s surrounded by tall trees.





Variations on the wood-framed raised bed theme, separated by paths of gravel


Raised beds made of cinder blocks, cottage-y picket fence and twiggy arbor. I’m figuring, since the whole property is fenced, I won’t need to surround the veggies with any additional fencing. I’ve never had to deal with rabbits, woodchucks, etc. at my other East Hampton property — only deer.


Mix’n’match paving