Love your ornamental landscape and not sure you’re ready to give up space for a vegetable garden that needs to be replanted every year? Fortunately, there are dozens of easy-to-grow edibles that add beauty and style to the garden— like fruiting shrubs and trees. Most are very attractive and complement an existing ornamental garden. Fruiting plants have beautiful flowers that precede the fruit; some, like citrus blossoms, are highly fragrant. Best of all, they will reward you with a bounty of delicious, organic fruit year after year, without a lot of effort on your part.
are the hottest edible for home gardens, perhaps because this tasty, antioxidant super-food is quite pricey in the supermarket. Yet one plant can produce six to seven pounds of fruit in a season! Blueberry shrubs have a fantastic array of white to blush-colored flowers in the spring and foliage that changes in the autumn from a pretty green to vivid red and gold.
Blueberries are surprisingly easy to grow, even in warmer regions. The new Bountiful Blue® has blue-green foliage that is stunning in the garden, and it produces masses of plump, juicy berries. The Southern Highbush varieties like Emerald, ONeal, Sunshine Blue, Jubilee and Southmoon are extremely tolerant of heat and humidity and don’t require a pollinator to produce fruit. For the colder parts of the country, opt for the Northern Highbush varieties, such as Chandler, HardyBlue, Patriot and Spartan, or the really cold hardy Half-High varieties Northblue and Northsky. These do require a pollinator, meaning that you need to have at least two different varieties with similar bloom times, planted close together.
Fruit trees make a beautiful addition to the garden or in a container on a patio. Citrus
, with their glossy green foliage and fantastic fragrance, can provide an abundance of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes. The Variegated Calamondin Orange has stunning green and cream-colored foliage, and its fruit is variegated with a pale green stripe. The Moro Blood Orange has bright red-fleshed fruit with a delicious flavor; and the Meyer Lemon Improved produces a crop of juicy fruit twice a year. Gardeners in colder climates can easily grow citrus in containers and overwinter them indoors.
is one fabulous fruit that is just beginning to earn the respect it deserves. Pomegranate trees have brilliant orange flowers and will yield a crop of big red fruit that are extremely high in antioxidants. It’s easy to find fabulous recipes for pomegranates online. Or just toss some seeds in a salad, atop a parfait or into a glass of champagne. Some people find pomegranate seeds to be a bit too fibrous for their liking — but that is a problem no more with the new Angel Red® variety. It was bred to produce soft seeds that are pleasant to eat, and its juice content is much higher than other varieties. Angel Red bears its prolific, bright-red fruit in early September, before most other pomegranates. If you can bear it, leave a few fruits on the tree at the end of the season to feed birds into the winter.
are expensive and sometimes hard to find — so grow your own. Fig trees are water-wise and fuss-free. Try Black Jack, with its deep purple, very sweet fruit and semi-dwarf form, ideal where space is limited; Brown Turkey, which fruits twice a year; or Peter’s Honey, named for its sugary goodness.
is a spectacular flowering tree that produces a tart fruit that makes fantastic jams. Try the Super Red Flowering quince and enjoy huge bright red blossoms, or the Cameo Japanese variety, with delicate apricot-pink blooms.
are another no-nonsense choice to try in your garden. The vines will grow quickly to climb a wall, trellis or arbor. Three North America native, cold hardy varieties to try are Niagara, with its big yellow green fruit that is oh-so-sweet; Catawba, with purple-red berries that ripen later in the season; and Delaware, a luscious, red dessert grape that is ready to harvest in the early mid-season.
For something a bit more exotic, try growing Kiwi
. This native of New Zealand is delicious and easy to grow in almost any climate. It’s a fast-growing vine, so plant near a trellis or arbor so it can climb and the fruit can hang down for easy harvesting.
will round out your incredible edible garden. Just tuck in some creeping rosemary like the Huntington Carpet or an upright grower like Roman Beauty or Barbeque; and some lavender, such as Hazel Spanish Lavender or the dwarf Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender. Try growing a sweet bay in a container on your patio and use the dried leaves for soups and sauces.
Nicholas Staddon is the director of new plants for Monrovia. Working with breeders, hybridizers and professional plant hunters, Nicholas uncovers the most amazing discoveries in the plant world. He looks for varieties that have improved habits– such as more pest and disease resistance, easy care, dwarf or compact habits, outstanding flower or foliage color and other desirable attributes. Nicholas has been with Monrovia for close to 20 years and is the spokesperson for new plants. Because he regularly travels around the country and internationally, he has his eye out for the next gardening trend. He is a frequent speaker at flower and garden shows, botanical gardens and gardening clubs. For more great ideas on adding attractive edibles to your garden, visit www.monrovia.com.