Friday, February 15, 2013

Design Trend 2013

I'm a bit behind the curve in writing about garden trends for 2013.  Probably because I'm not a trendy kinda person.  I'm more about quality classics; things worth investing in that I can enjoy for the long haul. So I just have two words for you today regarding "trends" because I think this idea is a culmination of current gardening passions, low-stress lifestyles, and low-water realities: edible natives.

Forget about boiled aspen bark and cattail roots. I'm talking about easily accessible berries, nuts, and foliage that you can toss in with your breakfast cereal or dinner salad, cook up into a sweet pie or jam, or decoct into a refreshing beverage. These are plants that are available at better nurseries / garden centers along Colorado's Front Range and are already being used in gardens and landscapes of all sizes.  My list focuses on woody plants — those that form the structure of the garden and are your greatest investment.

Gambel oak, Quercus gambelii (nuts ground into a flour or meal)
Pinyon pine, Pinus edulis

Berries, best sweetened and cooked
Boulder raspberry, Rubus deliciosus
Golden currant, Ribes aureum

Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana

Sand cherry, Prunus bessei

'Pawnee Buttes' dwarf form of Prunus besseyi
Buffaloberry, Shepherdia argentea

Berries, sweetened for a lemonade-like beverage
Three-leaf sumac, Rhus triloba

Smooth sumac, Rhus glabra

Berries, fresh or dried
Serviceberry, Amelanchier utahensis is the native variety, A. canadensis is available commercially

Are there more choices? You bet. Native grape (Vitus riparia) hawthorns, thimbleberry and elderberry, not to mention all the perennials and herbs (often considered weeds) like horehound (Marrubium vulgare), mint, and chicory. These plants aren't as readily available for purchase, but might be fun to plan a foraging trip around.

Designing a landscape with edible natives means understanding the growing conditions necessary to keep the plants healthy, and combining them in ways to best show off their growth habits, foliage textures and  colors.
Have you been growing edible native plants in your yard?  I'd love to hear about it!


David Cristiani said...

Nice "trend" you show on native edibles - I agree on trends being trumped by timeless! Some of those are native down here, or are found higher up but grow nicely of the latter would be the tasty, ripe acorns of gambel oaks.

The 3-leaf sumac and golden currant are both so easy to grow, one can invite neighbors over if you have enough!

Jocelyn H. Chilvers said...

Thanks for your comments, David. Yes, there is always a tiny bit of overlap as to what will grow here in Denver and in your Albuquerque!