Growing Vegetables among Ornamental Plants
With theof today, it is becoming more and more logical to and fruits together with ornamental plants instead of having a separate plot for them. Indeed, some vegetables and fruits are very decorative in flower and leaf and look ‘at home’ with ornamental plants. In recent years nurserymen have introduced many ornamental varieties of vegetables, such as purple Brussels sprouts, which are very good to eat as well as being eye-catching features in a border or bed.
There are various situations in which vegetables and fruits can be grown in this way: for example, many fruits may be trained up a wall, fence or trellis. Some climbing vegetables could be grown at the back of a border of ornamental plants, against a wall or trellis. Many fruit and vegetables can be grown in containers on a terrace or patio.
Dwarf fruit trees can be dotted among shrubs and other plants. There are many dwarf vegetables suited to edging a bed or border, or taller kinds for growing among larger ornamental plants.
As long as you are still able to cultivate thebetween the plants, there is every advantage in mixing crops and ornamental plants. One of the problems, however, may be roots from trees and shrubs. These could possibly hamper deep cultivations and may also result in the soil drying out fast in warm weather. So you may need to pay extra attention to watering. You must also ensure that large trees and shrubs do not cast too much shade over the vegetables and fruits, for most like a position in full sun.
Fruit on wall or trellis
Most gardeners have a wall, trellis or fence that could be used for training fruit trees. On a sunny trellis you could grow apples as espaliers—the trees are trained flat, either to resemble a double U shape on a short trunk, or as a central trunk carrying opposite tiers of horizontal branches. Do not grow apples on walls as they need good air circulation. Pears can be grown either on a sunny wall or trellis, this time perhaps as a flat fan shape on a short trunk, or as an espalier.
Other fruit trees that can be grown as fans on a sunny wall or trellis are plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots.
Morello cherries (sour cherries) can be grown very successfully either on a sunny wall or on a north-facing wall, again trained to a fan shape. Cherries are among the few fruits that can be grown in shade.
Figs have large, very handsome leaves and are also suitable for fan training, preferably on the warmest wall you have.
Other fruits that can be grown on a wall, trellis or fence include blackberries and loganberries, again trained to a fan shape. The cut-leaved blackberry is probably the most attractive variety: it has deeply cut leaves which turn a beautiful colour in the autumn.
Gooseberries can be trained vertically, too. They need a sunny site. Grow them as espaliers, single, double or triple cordons or even as fans.
Red currants can also be grown as espaliers or cordons and will tolerate a certain degree of shade.
Dwarf fruit trees among the shrubs Why not grow some dwarf fruit trees among your shrubs and other plants? They can look very beautiful in the spring when they are in flower. Apples and pears are often supplied on dwarfing ‘rootstocks’. The rootstock is the plant on which the variety of apple or pear was budded or grafted by the nurseryman, and provides the root system of the tree.
As the name implies, a dwarfing rootstock produces a dwarf tree. You can buy various types of dwarf tree, such as a bush tree on a short ‘leg’ or trunk, or a dwarf pyramid. The latter has a vertical trunk carrying whorls of branches from near ground level and gradually reducing in length towards the top to give a pyramidal shape.
Other dwarf fruits include strawberries, which would make a good edging to a flower bed, especially the small-fruited alpine strawberry.