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Edible Plants Serve a Dual Purpose in the Landscape

Sunday, June 23, 2024

When it comes to tasty things to eat from the garden, think beyond tomatoes, cucumbers, squash or green beans. Colorful flowers add beauty to the space, but did you know some beautiful flowers are edible and can serve a dual purpose in the garden?


Common edible flowers grown in Oklahoma include the chrysanthemum, calendula, nasturtium, daylily and squash blossoms. Before adding any parts of a flower or shrub to an edible dish, ensure it hasn’t been treated with fungicides or insecticides.


While chrysanthemums are a favorite culinary flower of China and Japan, with both the flowers and leaves being edible, the leaves of most varieties grown in the U.S. are tough and bitter. Fortunately, the flowers can be eaten and are typically used in soups.


The leaves and flowers of nasturtium, an old-fashioned type of garden flower, are a wonderful addition to salads. Also, the blossoms make a tasty sandwich.


For those who enjoy growing tulips, add petals to various dishes. The flavor of the petals ranges from a mild bean taste to a lettuce taste. Choose tulip varieties that are more fragrant as they tend to taste better.


Herbs are a good way to incorporate edible plants into a landscape. They’re easy to grow, making them a good choice for novice gardeners.


Gardeners who are looking for something to grow in the cooler part of the gardening season this fall can plant calendula. It has been grown in herb gardens for centuries. They resemble a marigold, and the dried or fresh petals of the plant’s blossoms are used to color rice, noodles, soups, broths, cakes, puddings, cheese, some meats and even butter. For those who enjoy a deviled egg every now and then, try adding a couple of dried calendula leaves to the egg mixture for a fun, new flavor.


There are some shrubs that not only provide edible flowers in the landscape, but they also provide fruits such as blackberries, sand plums and blueberries. Sand plums naturally form clumps and can make attractive masses. Blueberry bushes can make a hedge that can be used for privacy or for defining spaces within the landscape.


Trees also provide a variety of edibles, including apples, pecans or jujubes. Trees also serve as focal points in the garden.


When designing a landscape, gardeners can appeal to all the senses, including taste.

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