Pretty Edible

I had a vacant vegetable bed last summer and decided to plant it with decorative edible plants just to show how good food can also be decorative.

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On the blue bamboo frame I sowed luffa, beside the frame I planted golden sweetpotato ‘Marguerite’. The central plantings consisted of Amaranthus tricolor ‘Joseph’s Coat’, and near the blue ceramic pot I planted basil ‘Purple Amethyst’, eggplant ‘Listada de Gandia’, and some chilli ‘Green Banana’. For edging I used silverbeet ‘Rainbow’ and beetroot ‘McGregor’s Favourite’.

There’s nothing new about using decorative produce in ornamental bedding displays. In my first job as an assistant gardener with the Greater London Council, we used to grow half a million each of triple-curled parsley, purple-leaved beetroot and rainbow silverbeet during spring for planting out as summer bedding.

The only two plants that some local gardeners seemed unaware of being edible were the variegated cassava, normally seen as an ornamental in old-fashioned Brisbane gardens, and the Amaranthus which is widely grown as an ornamental summer annual.

However, the main idea of the planting was to encourage people to think of productive plants as showy ornamentals suitable for front gardens, and also that differently coloured produce is a way of diversifying the nutritional value of the food you eat.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
4th May 2010