Do you grow edibles in your ornamental garden? It’s  something I am beginning to be asked more and more when designing gardens. Sometimes there is space and a desire to have an entirely separate growing space for edibles and sometimes an integrated growing scheme is preferable.

I do both mainly because when I run out of edible growing space I can often find the odd hole in the ornamentals that can be usefully filled with a seasonal plant or two. I treat them like annuals. Of course this also helps with the rotation element of edible growing as this kind of inter-planting is very random.

Do you find some edibles are more harmonious with ornamentals than others?  I am trying out the 3 sisters techniques (1xSweetcorn, planted on a slight mound with a bean at each corner of the mound base (4 beans) then 1xCourgette every 3 Sweetcorn/bean group) in the edibles area and seeing some good results so far. There are French marigolds and nasturtiums under the tomatoes to distract black fly.

Do you have a full blown ornamental potager? grown for looks as well as edibles production?

Do take the short poll and let us all know


Plants I don’t include in ornamental beds are the multipliers and runners, so strawberries and raspberries are kept to their own space, and horseradish is kept in a root barrier enclave!

Herbs mingle very happily and the odd currant in a partially shady spot can be easily worked into an overall plan. I grow salad wherever there is a sunny spot and lately spinach too.

After: New Herb bed balancing the planting areas either side of the dining terrace allows for a wide herb bed and en extension of the clients collection of herbs.

After: New Herb bed balancing the planting areas either side of the dining terrace allows for a wide herb bed and en extension of the clients collection of herbs.

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  • What about herbs? I’ve been meaning to start growing herbs in pots, but I want them to blend into my garden. I have hydrangeas, bugainvillea, a rosebush and several stone crops in pots.

    • Oh Yes herbs work very well in ornamental borders. They need plenty of sun usually and having them close to the front means they’re easy to access. Pots are a great idea for them and you could grow one or two in the same pot. Oregano, Thyme and a few Chives perhaps or Rosemary and Sage, Mint does very well to and being in a pot will stop it creeping about the place and setting up home where you don’t want it. What are the herbs do you use most?

  • Hi Rosalind, looking at the picture above I think you grow ornamentals in your herb garden. Beautiful. At one time my husband grew herbs of every kind, now I’m basically down to the ones we use all the time, like basil, chilves, the lemon herbs, etc. But we do have some growing where they want and we just let them – oregano in the middle of a field, mint and thyme on the back lawn. Makes it fun when you come across an unexpected plant.

    • I love that idea Lenie. Wild herbs always have a much stronger flavor, we had some escapee Rocket which was far fuller in flavor than the annually sown stuff!

  • Jacqueline Gum

    I used to grow basil, parsley, chives and oregano in my garden and they blended beautifully. I don’t have garden anymore, sadly, but I love the picture above.

  • Wonderful images! Having worked for many years in luxury hotels I’ve been treated many times to lovely dishes with all manor of edible ornamentals. I don’t grow them myself because my house sits on the tip top of a hill above the garage and I have a wrap around deck but no garden. I know about container gardening and it sounds wonderful but just never had the time or inclination to pursue it.

    • The best piece of advice I ever had about container gardening was to chose containers of 60cm+ in diameter and no smaller. Minimizes watering and stress on plant roots as the container heats and cools during the day.

  • MinaJoshi5409

    What a lovely garden. I am not much of a gardener but have managed to grow mint, onions and garlic in pots. Also growing some nasturtiums in a pot. I like your idea and am tempted to try growing a few tomatoes.

  • The image of the herb garden is so inviting and serene. Gardens show the gardeners passion for tending their spaces. I think that’s why I looking at them, you can feel the gardener’s joy.

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