By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
You may already be part of the emerging “foodscape” movement. Perhaps, like me, you have herbs worked into the landscape around your home or business. Mine include mounds of variegated lemon thyme as a border around the front walk, sage for textural contrast in the middle and vibrant red bee balm tucked into the tall stuff in the back. Purple coneflower is running wild and needs a little discipline this year.
In her book the Foodscape Revolution (St. Lynn’s Press, 2017), author Brie Arthur offers a handbook to inspire more foodscape throughout the yard. Her goal is to mainstream the model of growing edibles, from fruit and berries to vegetable and herbs, within the normal landscape. Grains, she writes, can be sown in clumps to mimic the look of ornamental grasses. And, small-leaf globe basil can be lined up as a border or hedge.
While herb growers will learn from her discussion of seed, soil, care, harvest and preservation, she goes far beyond an integrated herb garden to cover all growing edibles.
While I value the practical stuff, my favorite part of the book is “Part Two: Foodscaping Projects.” I like the inspiration. For example, turn an unused fire bowl into a bowl of loose-leaf lettuce. Arthuer’s patio pot ideas offer no-brainer combinations of height and color.
The 183-page, well-illustrated book is ambitious and well-organized. In the end the author explores aquaponics and hydroponics as well as how to get active in the cause. And, surprisingly she even squeezes in a few recipes like bloody Mary mix and candied jalapeno peppers.
After reading Foodscape, I picked up last year’s the downsized Veggie Garden by Kate Copsey (St. Lynn’s Press, 2016). The lushly photographed, 174-page hardback is designed to help readers find space to grow vegetables wherever they live. I think the books, both by the same publisher, are spiritual companions. Both authors suggest ways to best use gardening space at urban and suburban homes.
Of the “Five Themed Gardens for Small Spaces” (pages 80-81), herbs dominate three of Copsey’s suggestions – Pizza Wheel Garden, Italian Garden and French Culinary Garden. And, they play a key role in the Mexican Garden.
Another section identifies 12 herbs you may want to grow and their characteristics. Despite years of gardening, I got new ideas for containers and learned something new about natural fertilizers and what they do.
If foodscaping a trend? Here to stay? Its worth exploring to find out.