I've often wondered why vegetables and fruits are traditionally grown in straight lines behind a fence, herbs in their own separate plot, with ornamentals segregated into beds and borders. When Rosalind Creasy published The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping in the 1970s, the concept of edibles grown ornamentally -- let alone in the front yard -- was revolutionary. Maybe smaller properties have forced us to think creatively. Or perhaps container gardening, a perfect medium for experimentation, has opened our eyes to the possibilities of combining herbs, lettuces, vegetables, fruits, perennials, and shrubs into one happy medley of plant fusion.
It's so easy to turn an ornamental garden into a tasty, productive one. Tulips never look better than when grown with a skirting of cut-and-come-again mesclun greens -- just sow the seeds a month before tulips bloom. Hedge a walkway with dwarf blueberries for fruit and fall color, or center a large container with a dwarf columnar apple. Perk up pots with an edging of cascading strawberries. Ungainly cherry tomatoes look their best and ripen faster when grown up an attractive trellis. And your guests will be thrilled to reach up and pick their dessert off an overhead arbor laced with grapevines.