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Edibles in the flower border

GrumpymumGrumpymum Oxfordshire Posts: 76
I don't have room for a separate veg patch in my garden, so would like to mix edibles in with the shrubs and flowers. I've added quite a bit of fruit over the last couple of years, but no veg yet, except some salad and tomatoes in a few pots. Has anyone got any recommendations for veg, other than runner beans and rainbow chard which I don't really like, that will look pretty in the border, and won't be worried too much by competition from the shrubs and perennials?  I have a South-ish facing border that gets sun most of the day. My soil is a heavy clay with lots of stones though so carrots are out. Another problem is that they will need to be grown in the back or the middle of the border as the dog is likely to pee on anything grown at the front!


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,229
    edited January 2019
    I suggest you order yourself a copy of Geoff Hamilton's Ornamental Kitchen Garden in DVD and/or book form.  He grows a wide range of fruit and veg thru the year and mixes it in the flower borders to help disguise plants form pests.  He talks about soil care, maintaining fertility and successional sowing and planting to provide food thru the year.

    Both are available online.  The DVD often comes packaged with his Cottage Garden and Paradise Gardens DVDs and all 3 are a great source of info and inspiration.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 16,780

    What about some edible flowers to decorate your salads and meals? You can eat Nasturtium leaves and flowers.

    I think the flowers on broad beans are quite pretty and they smell nice too. They are ready early so can be replaced when they look tatty. Might need a bit of support though. You could try sweet corn at the back but grow it in a clump for fertilisation and make sure it gets enough sun. It doesn't mind butternut squash growing underneath it.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 71,873
    edited January 2019
    I grew broad beans among wallflowers and tulips in the front garden of our Victorian terrace ... passers by asked what the pretty black and white flowers were  :)
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 6,525
    I've grown mangetout among sweet peas. The Real Seed Company do a really nice yellow variety that always does well for us and looks as good as it tastes. You'll need some wigwams or something for them to climb unless you want them to ramble among the shrubs.
    Unlike the brain, the stomach warns you when it's empty.
  • GrumpymumGrumpymum Oxfordshire Posts: 76
    Thank you. Great suggestions!

    I never thought of broad beans as decorative before so will give those a try.

    I like the sound of mange tout in with the sweet peas as well and yellow pods should make them easy to find.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,703
    edited January 2019
    Borlotti beans are another very pretty climber

    Cavolo nero is a relatively small type of kale so mixes in well and looks fabulous. Purple sprouting 'claret' is very attractive - quite big though.

    Grow carrots in a tall pot. Salsify and scorzonera are roots that are much less fussy about soil. Scorzonera has attractive (edible) leaves.

    There are plenty of perennial veg too, that are very suited to being in a mixed border:
    Walking onions, perennial leeks, daubenton's kale, nine star broccoli.

    For herbs, dill or fennel will grow very tall and stately at the back of a border, but only grow one as they affect the taste of each other. They both self seed. Bronze fennel is particularly pretty. The flowers are delicious too. Culinary sage is one of the easier evergreen herbs, well behaved and not too big. Marjoram makes a nice front of border plant, even if you don't eat it - bees love it. I grow it and just make sure to wash it well. 'Greek' oregano is also good - hardy, pretty much evergreen and a bee magnet.

    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 7,505
    Runner beans make a good backdrop too - 

    As Obelixx suggests above - try and get Geoff Hamilton's DVD set.
    Very informative and very relaxing
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,229
    I once saw a red border at Kalmthout gardens in Belgium - Bishop of Landaff dahlia, ruby chard, red onions, red kale, deep red nasturtiums etc - all tone on tone and very striking. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • melanie 568melanie 568 LeicestershirePosts: 55
    This is a great idea. I was trying to figure out where to squeeze a veg patch into my garden but I've not realised that i dont need too! Perfect! 🌷🥕🌷🥕
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 39,314
    I often grew mange tout and lettuce etc in among the ornamentals in a previous garden. Any of the pea/bean family have flowers which can be quite varied, so they're always worth trying, especially as they provide height. Just make sure you have room to get in and tend and harvest them, and room for them to grow without being crowded, or crowding existing planting. I grow chives in a border, and strawberries. 

    Chard is another very good plant for growing in a border. Lovely colours too  :)

    Just check that what you want to grow will fit with the conditions in the border.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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