Elegant Edibles for the Southwest

Include edible plants in ornamental beds for an eye-catching Southwest garden.
Swiss chard 'Bright Lights'

From prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii ) and brittlebush ( Encelia farinosa) to apple trees (Malus) and deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens), many edible plants can be paired with ornamentals to create a good-looking and good-tasting landscape, even in the most arid Southwest climates. Consider the following:

Prickly pear cactus, which produces deep magenta fruit at the end of summer, is handsome when planted with brittlebush. Both plants have silver casts that work well together.

For a colorful summer screen, try mixing pomegranates (Punica granatum) with yellow bells (Tecoma stans var. angustata). Both plants are large winter deciduous shrubs that will grow quickly to hide an undesirable view.

For cool season color, plant 'Bright Lights' Swiss chard around 'Tuscan Blue' upright rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue') in a raised garden bed. The rosemary, which is an evergreen perennial shrub, can be a permanent centerpiece with the yellow and red stems of 'Bright Lights' providing a seasonal punch of color around its base.

Apple trees are handsome in formal gardens or espaliered against walls. The varieties 'Anna' and 'Golden Dorset' are among the easiest to grow in the Southwest.