Edible Landscapes in Austin
I have said it for years and I’ll say it again, you have never tasted fruit, veggies or herbs until you eat them right from the garden, or grow it yourself. Store bought fruit and vegetables are picked prematurely so they arrive a proper color on the outside, but the inside can be very different. While a few things you may try here in Central Texas will be a swing and a miss, there are a ton of native plants and herbs that provide food for you and wildlife, while providing flowers all season.
Most people get bogged down with what a veggie, or herb bed should look like. The photo above is (from right to left), cilantro, Blaze Climbing Rose, Oregano, Rosemary, more flowering cilantro and dill in the front. The garden below is 80% edible including trees and flowers. it isn’t necessary to grow food in rows, the colors and textures pf herbs and even peppers and annual crops can be added to your perennial beds.
The front of this bed (above) is Kale and herbs, the remainder of the yard is fruit trees, herbs and perennial plants. The photo below is another example of stunning edible landscape with both feature and function. The two trees on the left are a Nectarine and an Apple with mint ground cover beneath them. On the right is a lemon and just out of the photo is a plum.
This clearly Xeriscape design is a phenomenal example of food in the low water landscape. Watered by drip lines only, there is a treasure trove of fruit trees, edible flowers and herbs that grow freely in the Central Texas Landscape and here are just a few of my faves…
Thyme, oregano, mints of all kinds, stevia, parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil, cilantro (in cooler months) and so many more are either annual or perennial, and flower in shades of pink, white and purple. Pungent herbs are also deer resistant and have proven themselves in high populations.
This Lemon Thyme with its variegated yellow and bright green leaves with its delicate puse/ lavender flowers. Blackberries do beautifully in the Central Texas Landscape and beyond. Aside from a beauty of a vine almost all year, you get flowers and fruit.
We get as much as a pint a day each spring from one plant. They also spread underground and cover more space each year as desired. easy to control and worth the trouble for sure. This is a thornless variety for zone 8.
The beautiful ground cover below is Lemon Balm. It is not only evergreen, it is super low water, medicinal, edible and a mosquito repellant.
Lemon Balm and other herbs aren’t the only perennials in the landscape. There are other edible, evergreens that are more drought tolerant than you’d think. The bed below is medicinal and edible. You’re looking at the bottom of a Santa Rosa Plum tree, kale, Swiss chard and lettuce that has gone to seed and a stem from my “Wonderful” Pomegranate. Plant these types of foods in morning sun and enjoy them most of the year. Companion planting with assorted mint ground covers and thyme, also keeps their form beautifully all year while they keep biting pests at bay from you and your food.
One of my favorite natural fragrances is Citronella. Nothing like its pungent bottled version, it is very citrus and floral at the same time and a beautiful plant with lavender flowers to boot. A member of the geranium family, it can be sensitive to cold here in Central and Northern parts, but well worth the protection or added care.
Not only are herbs and edibles delicious and nutritious, but they are mosquito repelling in many cases. Most herbaceous plants can be rubbed on the skin, or just broken, burned or crushed to omit the scent; place fresh herbs in a pocket, purse, bra or socks for added protection from mosquitoes. Skip the perfume, the only ones enjoying that is the mosquitoes anyway.
Above is variegated thyme which there are literally dozens of that do well in central Texas; below is rosemary and I love both the trailing and upright. Most herbs like the Rosemary will prefer full sun, but there are many that will tolerate or do well in part sun too.
The oregano above is one of many funky, aromatic varieties you can grow all over the country and the Mexican Oregano (below) doubles as a sun to part shade perennial and an edible as many Texas perennials do.
Did you know Cilantro (above) did this? Butterflies love them at this stage and when they go to seed you get what birds don’t eat, which is a lot. You’d be pleasantly surprised by how much seed you can collect each year to replant at will in the future. That’s a huge savings if you love to cook with fresh herbs like I do.
Below is one of my many herb gardens I’ve had through the years. I like it to look like a natural space and each plant serves as protection for the others in the heat of the day. There is also plenty to share with birds, bees and visiting caterpillars and larvae.
I think it’s really important to avoid the trappings of a traditional herb or veggie bed. Plants are meant to mingle as long as they each have their own space or play well with one another. Just like people!
Not only are some of these flowers stunning like the Pineapple Guava above or the fresh cut Thai Basil below; but they are bee, bird and butterfly food which is good for everyone.
Onions (above), a member of the Allium family, and parsley (below) create spectacular flower displays when they’re allowed to go to bloom: this is also a great way to collect seeds for next season, or just let them spread at will like I do and edit as needed.
Here you see an herb garden that doubles as mosquito repellant. Every plant in this bed could be used to grab a leave and go. Edible herbs will also throw off your breath to a mosquito or improve it at the very least 😉
These two spaces are primarily edible or medicinal. With so many evergreen options there’s no reason to leave them out of the xeriscape landscape in most cases.
could you tell here that you are looking at one of my two peach trees, 4) tomatoes, 5) peppers, 2) grapes, spearmint, chocolate peppermint and grapefruit mint as ground cover around the firepit, sweet and Thai basils, onions, Aloe Vera, Lemon Grass, yarrow and edible flowers. All together, this small backyard has a Wonderful Pomegranate tree, a Kieffer Pear, 2 peaches, June Gold and Sam Houston, a Santa Rosa Plum, an Apple Tree in the front yard, 2) olives, one in front and one in back, 4) Pineapple Guava, blackberries, Raspberries, grapes, herbs galore, peppers, tomatoes. asparagus, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, onions, garlic, medicinal plants and edible flowers.
This new season brings new opportunity. The next time you expand your perennial beds, make a little room for your food. You will know what is on it, you know where it came from, you provide food for bees and birds and it will get you in your garden more.
Happy Edible Gardening!
Lisa’s Landscape & Design
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
- Posted in: Central Texas Gardens ♦ Deer Resistant Plants Austin ♦ Edible Gardens ♦ Education ♦ Gardening in Central Texas ♦ Organic Gardening ♦ organic pest control ♦ Water Wise ♦ Xeriscape design austin
- Tagged: Central Texas, consulting, Design, Edible Gardens, edible landscapes, Gardening, herbs, Landscape Designer, Organic Gardening, xeriscape austin