Elegant Edibles for the Northeast

Bring edible plants into ornamental beds for a season-long show.


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No space for a vegetable garden? Window boxes and patio planters can grow fresh herbs, leafy greens, and salsa ingredients as easily as petunias and geraniums -- and look beautiful in the bargain.

Let pink-flowered creeping thyme (Thymus vulgaris) cascade over the edge of a pot. For brighter color, add the golden foliage of citrus-scented lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus) to the arrangement. Swap ornamental, flowering salvias for their equally attractive culinary cousins: Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor' and 'Aurea'. Their felted oval leaves blend beautifully with flowering plants and add flavor to poultry dishes.

Herbs earn their keep in the landscape, too. In place of ornamental alliums, try chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), which add vertical accents and long-lasting flowers to the garden and spice to the dinner table.

Want an edible alternative to annual bedding plants? Leafy lettuce, chard, and kale offer exotic color and texture to flowerbeds and borders. Turn an eyesore fence into a productive patch with climbing beans, cucumbers, squash, and gourds. Let their foliage, flowers, and fruit add shade, privacy, and food for the table. Bon appetit!

Learn more about growing thyme.

Learn more about growing sage.

Learn more about growing chives.

Learn more about growing garlic chives.

See a slideshow of attractive vegetable varieties!

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