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n a memorandum regarding his years of service to his country, Thomas Jeff erson wrote, “the great- est service that can be rendered to

any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” Combining the desire for getting back to the earth and reducing not only one’s waistlines but also their carbon foot- print, more and more new homebuyers are feeling their oats in purchasing homes with productive landscapes. Here in the Southeast, with warmer and sunnier win- ters, the edible landscaping trend provides more opportunities to grow useful and delicious fruits and vegetables year-round. In the Sixties, the organic vegetarian

lifestyle, living off the land with the help of the Foxfi re series and Mother Jones maga- zine, was all the rage. What was old is new again, with current trends in gastronomy featuring open-air fresh vegetable markets, heirloom vegetables and a kaleidoscope of new colorful peppers, beans and tomatoes. “Vegetables are the new meat,” cited New York Magazine’s Restaurants column last fall. Vegivores are setting the style, espe- cially among millennials (the next genera- tion of home buyers). They’re interested in expanding their culinary interests into the backyard.

Seeds of Success Sustainable landscapes are at the lead- ing edge of outdoor design. Why be left behind? If you do decide to include edible components in a plan, this needs to be discussed from the start of the overall design process. Site assessment before the home is started will determine if there are any species—especially natives—already on-site that can be incorporated into the de- sign, or moved properly and held off -site to be used in fi nal stages. Budgeting for land- scaping material, effi cient irrigation and installation costs should be determined up front, so that by the time the home is near- ing completion, there’s still adequate fund- ing for fruit trees and pond features. The initial landscape concept and de-

sign could still change during the construc- tion phases, of course, but in order to cre- ate a viable and sustainable landscape, the landscaper will need to start early, to iden- tify specifi c fruit and vegetable cultivars, especially if species are out of season or

There are many ways to incorporate edible plants into a landscape. Even if you’re rebuilding existing gardens, natives and non-native edible plants can be scattered randomly throughout the beds, as an exciting and useful alternative to traditional ho-hum plant selections.


Flowers such as roses, daylilies, gingers, hibiscuses and violets—and annuals such as pansies, nasturtiums and sunflower are edible. They can be planted alongside seasonal vegetables such as beans, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce.


In the South, conventionally-accepted tropical plants such as avocado (shown) are a good backyard option. Bananas, varieties of Barbados cherry, carambola, lychee, jackfruit, mulberry or moringa are also good prospects.


To separate properties, typical hedge selections, such as viburnums, ligustrums and boxwoods can be exchanged for blueberries, thorn-less blackberries and raspberries.


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