Three Ways to Eat Your Yard and Impress Your Neighbors
We all know the joy of eating fruit from a local farmer’s harvest, or even vegetables from our very own gardens… but let’s take it even further this fall by incorporating edible trees and shrubs into new or existing landscape designs! After all, shouldn’t our “green” way of living extend to the very plot of land that we call home?
This area of the world is fortunate to have a large variety of native plant species, and many are both aesthetically pleasing and delicious to eat! Edible landscaping can be a fun and challenging project to take on, but don’t forget that there are professionals in our area that can help. Whether you just need some direction to start your research, or a complete, custom-tailored landscape design for your space, they are often a good resource.
Let’s take for example the Juneberry or Serviceberry. This small ornamental tree or multi-stem shrub is native to the Americas, and is known for its beautiful form. Cultivars can range from dwarf varieties that top out around four feet, to majestic trees that reach upwards of thirty feet. Early spring brings showy white flowers to adorn the Serviceberry’s branches, but the real treat comes in the following months. Beautiful burgundy or red-colored berries replace the delicate white flowers, and are similar to blueberries in their size, incredible nutrition, and flavor. While some Serviceberries will need an extra growing season before they will produce their coveted harvest of berries, it is well worth the wait. And just as hints of fall begin to appear, the Serviceberry shows its last amazing show: intense green foliage fades to gold, orange, and even pinkish hues before dusting the ground. And don’t worry, that seemingly unusable area of your yard that receive only partial sunlight or tends to have wetter soils is no trouble for the native Serviceberry. As soon as this incredible native plant gets established in your landscape, your biggest worries will be how best to enjoy those delicious little berries. Fresh from the tree as you return from your evening walk? Or maybe an afternoon with a special friend, trying your hands at preserves, jam, or pie? One thing is sure: even your toughest critics will be impressed with a fresh-mixed cocktail using Juneberries grown in your own unforgettable landscape.
Do you have a small landscape bed that needs a sculptural element or focal point, but you don’t want it to block your view from the house? Traditional landscape designers might use a weeping Lace Leaf Japanese maple, which many neighbors already have, what about instead using a native with edible flowers and seed pods?! You may have heard of the Weeping Eastern Redbud, but your dinner guests will be delighted to learn that the salad with fresh lavender flower buds and the entrée with sautéed seed pods actually came from your front yard! This small deciduous tree is native to the eastern portion of the United States, and its purple-pink flowers emerge in the early spring, before its heart-shaped leaves develop. The blooms are unforgettable, and may even grow on the trunk of the tree! The weeping Redbuds are grafted to a standard Redbud trunk at about five feet in height, and can sometimes reach six feet across. The mid-summer leaves can range from a medium green color to a deep burgundy depending on the variety, but generally transition to a yellow fall color, adding to the esthetically pleasing characteristics of this small ornamental tree.