Ornamentals or Edibles, do I have to choose? By Jason Hauser

For the suburban gardener the ornamental nature of their garden holds a great deal of importance. Aside from personal satisfaction, many suburban gardeners also hope to delight, or draw the attention of, passers-by or visiting relatives with their eye-catching plantings. Increasingly, suburban gardeners are also wanting to growing edible plants. Sadly, many believe that planting edibles will be directly at the expense of keeping those eye-catching ornamentals. Fortunately, in this instance, you can have your cake and eat it too! It is entirely possible to fill your garden with plants that look good, are easy to grow, feed you, AND taste good.

Jaboticaba (with immature fruits) Credit Ketah Silvester.

It can be difficult to source plants that meet both the edible and ornamental criteria if your new to the gardening game. Local nurseries seem to frequently fall short on supplying, or at least identifying, plants that fit the bill. The best way around this is to get in touch with your local gardening community, as they will no doubt possess a great diversity of plants meeting the necessary criteria and can often be accessed without spending a cent via the sharing and swapping of plants with each other.

Growing attractive edibles is what I would consider to be the best use of space in the modern suburban garden, althought I’m a little biased on this one as I love eating from my garden. But why wouldn’t you want to have an eye catching garden that can also feed you!

Sweetleaf. Credit Ketah Silvester

Some great examples of attractive edibles in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours include:

  • Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)
  • Variegated mother-of-herb (Coleus amboinicus)
  • Icecream Bean Tree (Inga edulis)
  • Gin berry/Pink Fruited Lime Berry (Glycosmic trifoliata)
  • Millaa Millaa Vine (Elaeagnus triflora)
  • Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
  • Jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora)
  • Galanga (Alpinia galanga)
  • Rosella Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
  • Pandan (Pandanus amaryliifolius)
  • Oldman Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia)
  • Allspice (Pimenta dioica)
  • Dahlias (Dahlia sp.)
  • Sweetleaf/Katuk (Sauropus androgynus)
  • Dwarf Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)
  • LillyPilly (Syzygium sp.)
  • Achachairu (Garcinia humilis)

Author: Jason Hauser

Picture: Cranberry hibiscus edible arrangement by Jason Hauser

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