EDIBLE GARDENING FOR THE SENSES
Growing Beautiful Food In The City
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”1 was how East London’s favourite utopian socialist, William Morris, put it. The Arts and Crafts Movement he helped to found in the 19th century strived for a synthesis of the two, and presumably intended the same logic to be applied in the garden. Many traditional horticultural systems, such as the English cottage garden, represent fine unions between aesthetics and utility. It was around the time ornamental gardening and food production went their separate ways, that things started to go badly wrong; in the garden, on the planet, in our communities, and in our heads. Permaculture, with one of its key principles being ‘every element should serve many functions’, offers one path beyond the beautiful/useful dichotomy, to a bountiful future where all horticultural activity is geared towards the optimisation of multiple yields. Of course, there is nothing more beautiful than a well stewarded forest of moss curled parsley crisp with frost, or the swelling squash smiling at the sunset. But even I, a self-confessed vegetable nerd, can’t deny that there is nothing like colourful blooms to lift the spirits, and it is flowers that are universally acknowledged for their totemic and immediate beauty.
Right: Edible flowers grown for their beneficial properties.
Below: Organic produce on sale at a Farmers’ Market.
Ru Litherland describes how to integrate edible flowers into a productive garden.
© S Verhagen
3 Permaculture Magazine