Designing a Foodscape Garden

A Foodscape Garden combines growing vegetables intermingled with flower plants. 
It's a fairly new concept in the U.S., but has been done for centuries in France and other parts of Europe.

The Renaissance-style vegetable garden at Chβteau de Villandry, France, displays rows of cabbage, 
carrots and leeks among colourful flowers to create a productive and ornamental landscape.

I like growing bush beans and herbs between my taller flower plants.

This concept is similar to companion planting, in that it makes every inch of the garden perform and produce something came to be, not because of high food prices, but wit the rise in urbanization, and increasing concerns for environmental sustainability. Urban Gardens and farming (patios, balconies, terraces, in containers and indoors) has it's own bonuses and contribute to sustainability by allowing the ability to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers all together, in small spaces.

Foodscape Gardens are also referred to as "edible landscaping", and has been described as a cross between landscaping and farming. Foodscaping aims to show that edible plants are not only consumable, but can also be appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. Foodscaping spaces are seen as multi-functional landscapes, which are visually attractive, and also provide edible returns.

Differing from conventional vegetable gardening, where fruits and vegetables are typically grown in separate, enclosed areas, foodscaping incorporates edible plants as a major element of a pre-existing landscaping space. This may involve adding edibles to an existing ornamental garden, or entirely replacing the traditional, non-edible plants with food-yielding species. The designs can incorporate various kinds of vegetables, fruit trees, berry bushes, edible flowers, and herbs, along with purely ornamental species of plants. The design strategy of foodscaping has many benefits, including increasing food security, improving the growing of nutritious food and promoting sustainable living


Despite the modernity of the term foodscaping, the strategy of integrating edible plants into landscaping spaces is not a new a concept. Similar practices date back to ancient and medieval gardening and agricultural techniques.Foodscaping as a contemporary theory presents "a modern take on the way that past generations utilized land".

Unlike most historical horticultural practices, foodscaping explicitly supports the idea that edible landscapes can be just as aesthetically pleasing as purely decorative landscapes. Foodscaping advocates attempt to debunk the conventional perception of vegetable gardens as unattractive, and instead view edible crops as design features in and of themselves.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/24/Edible_garden_at_Pixie_Hollow.jpg/800px-Edible_garden_at_Pixie_Hollow.jpg

Edible garden design at Pixie Hollow Garden, Epcot, Disney World Florida,
 featuring purple and green kale, as well as chard varieties. 
Photo by: Myrna Litt


Historical Precedents

Edible landscaping techniques that were practiced in different historical cultures and periods can be seen as ancestors of foodscaping. In Ancient Rome, Roman villa gardens were often both productive and ornamental, though agricultural production was the primary purpose of earlier villa gardens.

Archaeological research suggests that these Roman gardens took on various forms, such as large vineyard landscapes or small herb gardens. Kitchen gardens, vineyards and orchards played an important role in the lives of ancient Romans, whose diets were largely based on fruits and vegetables.

In Mesoamerican culture, elaborate gardens and horticultural gardens were a pleasure of Aztec elites] Flowering, fragrant and medicinal plants were believed to be "perquisites of the lords". According to historical letters written by Aztec nobles, impressive gardens often included bright flower beds, fruit trees, herbs and sweet-smelling flowers. Groves, orchards and water gardens were sometimes incorporated into the designs of the more elaborate gardens.

Another ancient precedent to Foodscape Gardens can be found in Mesopotamia. Babylonians and Assyrians created gardens throughout cities and in palace courtyards that were a representation of Paradise. These featured fragrant trees and edible fruits. Archaeological evidence suggests that Assyrian Kings developed a naturalistic landscape style in which streams of water ran through gardens that grew plants such as junipers, almonds, dates, rosewood, quince, fir pomegranate and oak.

During the Renaissance, villa and chateau gardens in Europe often yielded fruit and vegetables to sell locally. The profits were used to support maintenance costs of the villa or chateau. Some of the common kinds of plants integrated into the elaborate Renaissance garden designs included figs, pears, apples, strawberries, cabbage, leeks, onions, and peas.

It is believed that English cottage gardens were originally created by village workers during Elizabethan times as a personal source of vegetables. Flowers were also planted within these gardens for ornamental purposes.


Photo below shows six of the nine square vegetable patches in the chateau of Villandry's Ornamental Kitchen Garden

The Ornamental Kitchen Garden is an edible landscape on the grounds of the chβteau of Villandry, located in the Loire Valley region of France. The Italian Renaissance-style garden is composed of nine square patches, which each feature a geometric design of flowers and vegetables whose design layouts changes with each bi-annual planting. These patches are lined with neat box hedges and each display vegetables of different colours such red cabbage, beetroot and blue leek. Each year, forty species of vegetables within eight plant families are planted.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/51/SchlossVillandryGarten03.jpg/797px-SchlossVillandryGarten03.jpg

Photo: Peter Dutton

 

Food Security

Foodscaping is widely accepted as a way of increasing food security, availability and accessibility. The instability of supermarket food prices can largely affect the availability of food. As "self-sufficient food systems", edible landscapes are able to help decrease a household's dependence on imported food. Foodscaping provides these households with access to a sustainable food source, even when faced with unpredictable circumstances such as the inability to procure food from commercial stores or periods of low financial income.

In increasing the quantity of locally grown and consumed produce, foodscaping also promotes local food sustainability. 

Energy Saving

Large-scale agricultural premises typically require large amounts of energy, such as the use of diesel, propane and electricity in order to carry out farming operations. The practice of edible landscaping often uses less energy and produces less waste than traditional methods of food production. This is because the food products cultivated from edible landscaping usually involve little processing, packaging or refrigeration.

Plants and Planning

Plants in foodscaping designs are typically chosen for their aesthetic and edible appeal. 

There are many vegetables which can add color to foodscaping spaces. Swiss chard, cabbage and lettuce species come in many colourful varieties, making them a popular choice for foodscaping. Edible flowers, such as carnations, marigolds, cornflowers and pansies can also be used to add decoration and brightness to an edible landscape.

Edible landscapes generally consist of a combination of annual and perennial plants. 
When planning an edible landscape, it is important to be aware that certain plants require particular environmental conditions. One should also consider the seasonality of the edible plants being used, meaning the time of the year during which a certain species will grow best. Cool season crops require lower temperatures for growth and seed germination, whilst warm season crops are plants that thrive in higher soil and air temperatures. In hot climates, the ideal plants for foodscaping are those that require little water, such as beans, spinach and broccoli. While certain fruit trees, berries and rhubarb are suitable for cooler climates, root vegetables, cabbages and peas are examples of plants that cope well in extremely cold conditions.



A blooming clump of Allium, commonly know as chives

Plants Used in Foodscaping



Plant Family Examples
Amaranthaceae Chard • spinach • quinoa • beetroot • glasswort
Apiaceae Carrots • celery • cilantro/coriander • cumin • fennel • parsley • parsnips • anise • chervil • dill • anise • parsnip • caraway
Asteraceae Artichokes • chamomile • cardoons • tarragon • lettuce • endive • dandelions • chicory • calendula • golden rod • chrysanthemum • cornflower • echinacea • elecampane • feverfew • mouse ears • mugwort • stevia • pansy • bellis perennis • blessed thistle • groundsel
Brassicaceae Broccoli • kale • cabbage • cauliflower • brussel sprouts • mustard • collard
Ericaceae Blueberries • huckleberries • rhododendron • azaleas
Lamiaceae Sage • rosemary • thyme • oregano • basil • catnip • lavender • marjoram • white horehound • peppermint • spearmint
Liliaceae Garlic • asparagus • chives • shallots • onions • leeks • tulips • fritillaria • lilies
Rosaceae Strawberries • cherries • raspberries • blackberries • pears • apples • plums • peaches • apricots • quinces • almond
Solanaceae Tomatoes  • bell peppers • potatoes • eggplant • chili peppers

Page about French Garden Design is here

The French Style Potager Kitchen Garden Design is here

Article is a compilation of information from 
"Plants Portal". Encyclopedia Britannica,

Home and Garden Magazine, 
Wikipedia, and other onine Gardening resources.

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