Vegetables and Fruit forum: Ornamental edibles?

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Sep 27, 2012 8:19 AM CST

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Are any of you growing edibles in your ornamental gardens? If so, what are you growing?

For us, we incorporate edibles pretty much everywhere. There are very few places on our place where you aren't near something good to eat. But I'm aware that there are a lot of beautiful edible plants and I want to make a list!

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twitcher
Sep 27, 2012 11:02 AM CST
I consider blueberries, Nanking cherries and some other small fruits to be ornamental, but grow them for the fruit. For example, the foliage of seaberry, as well as the orange fruit, are very attractive. Chinese dogwood, C. kousa, is very ornamental and produces an edible fruit. I have the variety "Big Apple". Maypop (P incarnata) does an edible fruit, but it is only marginally edible in my estimation. They do not usually ripen fully in this area though. A beautiful flowering vine.

I'm a big fan of the Autumn Olive. Although the fruit is not eaten by many, I do like the taste. I'm told that it also makes an excellent jelly, which I am sure is correct but have not done that. This is a very pretty small tree or large bush with silvery foliage, and is very productive. In the fall, it is covered with thousands of small, bright red fruits. Highly recommended.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 27, 2012 11:22 AM CST

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Great info - thank you!

I also grow the Autumn Olive and love the plant. Another benefit of it is that it is a nitrogen fixer, so it's improving your soil while providing all the other benefits.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Sep 27, 2012 12:01 PM CST
Well. Serviceberries. They come in all sorts of sizes from small treees to large shrub forms to small shrub forms. Many forms fruit very heavily. They are wonderful for attracting backyard songbirds as the birds just love the berries. Very nice eatten fresh for people, tasting like a blander blueberry. I guess they would make good Jelly also. My favorites are the Regent Serviceberry shrubs I have that fruit very, very heavily with large berries.

Red currants would be fabulous for jelly making and I have many red currant shrubs. I also have many blueberries. Love blueberries.

Summer berries here include blackberries. I grow the thornless erect blackberries. If you are familiar with trailing blackberry plants you know that the thorns are positively evil. The thornless types have absolutly no thorns and don't trail. They are just the best. I grow APACHE and ARAPAHO but there is a series of these all named after varius Indian Tribes. I really recommend these to anyone that likes blackberries.

A very ornament edible fruit I have a nice hedge section of is Goumi. I got mine from Raintree nursery. These make lovely berries in the summer that should make fabulous jelly. Fruit very, very heavily. The birds love them. Mine were covered in visiting Cedar Waxwings each day until the fruit was eaten up. Honestly these should be much more widely planted as ornamental shrubs, the shrubs are very attractive.

http://www.raintreenursery.com/Berries/Goumi/

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 27, 2012 12:23 PM CST

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I also grow blackberries around the house. Like you, I have a collection of thornless types that do very well in the landscape.

I forgot all about Goumi! Yes, thank you for that suggestion.

I'll also add wolfberry (some call it Goji berry). It's a nightshade type plant and quite nice to look at.

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twitcher
Sep 27, 2012 7:52 PM CST
Rita and Dave, I like Goumi as well, but can't seem to keep it alive here. The plants leaf out too early, then get hit by a hard frost, then don't have the ability to recover. For all the small fruits, the thieving robbin's (sic) devastate my crops. Still looking for an alternative to netting things. Also want to warn people that Raintree sent me an autumn olive that was supposed to be a goumi. Seems that there was a crop of so-called goumi seed sent out to a number of nurseries in the pac NW and they did not catch the problem. Goumi fruits early summer, autumn olive, obviously, in the fall.

Service berry/juneberry is a good one and has nice flowers in the spring, but mine don't look that great during the summer and fall. Don't forget aronia. Highly productive and makes a good and healthy juice. I eat them out of hand, but there's a trick to it. Don't chew the skin, just gently crush the berry between your teeth to extract the juice. The skin is bitter and gives the plant the common name of choke berry.

Run right out and find yourself a couple of Pink-a-blue blueberries that have pink fruit. Not only is the color different, but also the flavor. Cross a blueberry with cotton candy and that is similar to what you get for taste. The plant as well as the fruit are decorative and the robbins here have yet to figure out that they can eat them, but its only a matter of time. Yummy, but possibly too sweet for some tastes, but the kids will out-compete the birds if they get a chance to try some.

Although invasive, Jerusalem artichoke is highly productive and has nice smaller sunflowers in the fall. A winter crop, should have a place in everybody's garden, as long as you have a place you can control it. Surround by concrete and barbed wire fence, then a 6' barrier of grass, surround that by a mote, and you might keep control of it. nodding

Yakon is a very bizarre looking plant that is also very productive. A periennial in warmer climates, doesn't overwinter here but has delicious tubers.

Oca, which should do well in the Pac NW, is a very tasty tuberous plant and a member of the oxalis family. It also does not overwinter in this climate and it gets too cold too soon for it to set good crops here (a greenhouse would probably make it productive here). It's a reddish, oxalis type plant that gets 2 or more feet tall, so is attractive in its own right. In South America, they have many different varieties. Taste is delicious and genuinely nutty in flavor when microwaved in a plastic bag or roasted.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Sep 28, 2012 9:52 AM CST

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Fantastic info, twitcher, thank you!

I've been interested in Yacon and Oca for a while and have never grown them. I need to get some next year for sure!

My reading and researching is producing a pretty big list here. I'm putting all my thoughts together and will post it when I'm finished.
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Sep 28, 2012 10:27 AM CST
Much of my veggie garden is in the front yard. There's a fine line between ornamental and not, but pretty much everything I grow is edible.

This year, I did a row of soybeans along the sidewalk. Definitely got comments from the neighborhood dog walkers on that one. Melons and pumpkins get a lot of attention from kids, who like to look through for the fruits.

I'm growing two new hot peppers this year which are both tasty and gorgeous. Fish is a variety with variegated foliage and unripe fruits, and Maui Purple has foliage and unripe fruits that are a deep purple color, both ripen red. I think I'll put them in a more visible spot next year.

In the old flower beds, I have blueberry, bush cherry, and trellised kiwi plants. I had saffron crocus in there too, but it wasn't thriving, so I might move it down nearer the street.

In front of my fence (highly visible from the street), I grew sunflowers and okra this year. I think they're both attractive plants, but I actually got more compliments on last year's corn plot in that location, go figure.

And of course, herbs. I have rosemary, lavender, and pyrethrum (not edible, but a good companion) closest to the street, but I also have a variety of attractive basils, bronze fennel, even something like fernleaf dill can look really nice.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Newyorkrita
Sep 28, 2012 10:27 AM CST
Many years ago when I started my garden redo I decided that the first things i needed where the to put in a massive shrub border that would eventally run the entire south section of my property line and then tie into a not as wide shrub border to run along the east side. I ended up with lots of things that produce berries to attract backyard songbirds. I wanted to attract them. So I have things that I just consider "bird fruit". However, I did find that many edibles for us people where just as good for attracting our featured friends. Serviceberries and Blueberries are a good example.

Besides I wanted fruits that I would like to eat. So in went the red currants, blackberries and cherries. I tried raspberries but those never did work out well for me and after a while I ended up taking them out again.
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Herbs
Composter Container Gardener Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Dog Lover Plant and/or Seed Trader
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bitbit
Sep 28, 2012 12:48 PM CST
Oh, how could I forget strawberries! They form a nice ground cover under the rose bush when they're not producing. There are varieties with showy pink flowers, but I don't know if they produce worthwhile fruit.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
Oct 8, 2012 7:45 PM CST
I lov e the way radishes and Brassicas look when they flower.

And I grew an heirloom yellow-podded snow pea from India with cool purple flowers ... but the pods were not sweet! At least not for me the only year I'll ever grow them. They had a mild flavor that was not "intensely green" like most snow peas. The vendor called the flavor nutty, but I would say starchy. Off my list for next year! Pretty, though. Big lemon-yellow pods and big, fancy purple flowers like a sweet pea. And 7 foot-tall vines.



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twitcher
Oct 8, 2012 8:56 PM CST
Rick, I tried the yellow podded peas a couple years back and did not like them either. Yuck!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Oct 9, 2012 2:44 PM CST
I loved them up until I ate one.

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