2015-06-18 / From The Garden

Edible Gardens Can Be Decorative, Too

By Cynthia Gibson


Russian kale can spice up a salad or is a decorative filler for patio containers. (Photos by Cynthia Gibson) Russian kale can spice up a salad or is a decorative filler for patio containers. (Photos by Cynthia Gibson) This is the last week to plant long-term vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. The bright sunshine and heat of summer have finally arrived and gardens will now change almost daily.

Keeping a detailed weekly calendar of what is growing and harvestable in the garden is a great way to measure your success (and failure) rate. The timeline makes a good reminder when ordering seeds or buying plants for next year. Don’t forget to write small notes like, “great salad” or “do not bother growing those radishes again.”

What a surprise I had this morning; my strawberries are turning red and the first one tasted heavenly! The berries were planted last summer in white PVC gutters and attached to the railings on a small deck. By Jove, it worked! I added a small bit of wire fencing and draped the wire with netting. There will be plenty to share with the birds later; these first strawberries are mine.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Not only do I have plans for the ripening red Honeoye strawberries, I am eyeing my first lettuces and kale for next week. The kale is growing in decorative urns next to burgundy dracaena and chartreuse licorice plants (Helichrysum petiolare “Limelight”). Consider livening up salads by adding a few individual kale leaves to what would otherwise be a simple mix. They add an extra bit of crunch to your regular leaf lettuce salad. Kale comes in so many varieties and many are almost too pretty to eat.

Curly Russian kale is green with a hint of purple and very lacy. It is not only a decorative plant, but delicious. Picking off a leaf or two at a time will not impact it as a decorative plant. The addition will really perk up your everyday salad. The best part of growing this ornamental vegetable is that it will continue right through November. My suggestion is to leave it in the urn and enjoy a number of leaves each week. Keep the beauty growing until the end of the season, then use it for soup.

It is also important to keep up with all of the weeding in your beds. Use mulch when possible to make your garden chores easier. You can always move mulch aside to add another plant.

Clematis comes out in full force soon. The climbing deep indigo bells of the Rooguchi and Vyvyan Pennell varieties are definitely from the design table of fairyland. These climbing flowers are magical, and they will make it through our very cold winters if well-mulched.

Next week we will see iris and herbs. What will you decide to eat or just leave and appreciate from your garden?

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