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Eat your yard

In many gardens, fruits and vegetables are banished to a corner, confined to neat rows and isolated from the beauties of the yard — but no more. It’s time for those practical provisions to join the rest of those attention-hog eye-catchers.

Incorporating food-producing plants into a landscape is easier than it sounds. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Fill up trellises, fences and arbors with plants that dangle tasty food while you lounge under their thick shade canopy. Wine and table grapes, kiwis, raspberries, Marion berries, cucumbers and pole beans are all great options.

Many edibles, with colorful foliage and flowers and bright berries, are aesthetically pleasing enough to replace ornamentals.

Cindy Capparelli is a design sales consultant for Landscape East & West, a landscaping company with offices in Clackamas and Hillsboro, and said the edible landscaping inquires she has received have doubled in the last few years.

“I love selecting plants that are doing multiple jobs well,” she said.

Capparelli recommends assessing your site before selecting plants. Make note of sunny and shady spots as well as spots that are sheltered from weather. Do your research before planting, she said. Know what certain plants require — soil, water and sun — to ensure success. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Roses are just to please the eye. Brew roses in tea and use as garnishes, but make sure theyre 100 percent organic.

When choosing edibles, look for interesting textures and colors.

“Grow what you like; grow what you’ll use,” Capparelli recommends.

Cut out chemicals if possible. Often people try to preventively treat pests they don’t have, Capparelli said, but spraying plants often kills beneficial insects, too.

Make sure the plants and flowers you’re eating haven’t been sprayed by you, your lawn service or store employees where the plant was purchased.

Before eating anything from your yard, make absolutely sure you know what it is and what parts are edible. Poisonous plants can often look similar to edible plants and can have similar names.

Christy’s picks:

n Strawberry tree: A Pacific Northwest native, with evergreen foliage, red bark and white flowers. Its “edible, sparkling, bubbly” fruit starts out yellow, and turns orange and then a brilliant, fiery red, Capparelli said.

n Red currant: “Awesome fall color, nice foliage and great cascading pink blooms,” Capparelli said. Use in jam and sauces.

n She also likes the texture and colors of kale.

n Capparelli likes the Big Red variety of mustard because it makes a “fountain of red and green foliage” and can be added to salads, soups and stews.

n Herbs are some of her favorites. Rosemary is tough, gets blue flowers, and has a wonderful flavor and scent. Oregano is a perennial, goes well in Italian dishes and sauces, and has purple blooms. Capparelli describes Winter Savory as a ground cover with a grass-shaped leaf on a shrubby plant.

n Rhubarb: Its bright red stalks are tart and delicious in pies and sauces. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, though, so only use the stalks. If you can’t keep the slugs away from hostas, try replacing them with rhubarb’s big, exotic leaves.

If you’re looking for natives:

n Licorice fern: Edible roots taste like licorice. It grows well with moss, and prefers full shade and moist soil.

n Salal: Lush shrub with large, green leaves and abundant white and pink flowers in spring and summer. The edible berries in fall are good for jams and jellies. It’s an evergreen so it brings color year-round. It’s relatively pest and disease free, and is easy to care for once established.

n Low- and Tall-Oregon Grape: Don’t forget Oregon’s state flower. The berries are edible but very sour, and can also used for natural dyes.

n The golden currant: Native to eastern Oregon, but grows as a drought-tolerant shrub throughout the state. Edible berries and golden fall color follow golden yellow flowers in late spring.

n Red huckleberry: Berries are used in pies, jams and teas, and can be frozen and canned. White flowers bloom from spring to summer.

n High Bush Cranberry: Edible fruits can be used in juices, jams and jellies.

n Wild ginger: Heart-shaped leaves compliment beautiful spring flowers. This perennial groundcover has edible roots.

Replace simple shade trees:

Popular choices include apple, cherry, fig, pear, persimmon or plum trees.

For flower-lovers:

n Chamomile: German and Roman chamomiles can be used in teas.

n Roses. Use rose petals in tea and as garnishes. Make sure they haven’t been sprayed. Don’t use roses purchased in the store.

n Lavender. There’s almost nothing this plant can’t be used for — beverages, food dishes, soaps, soaks, potpourris and crafts — and it’s beautiful. There are more than 100 varieties, with purple, blue, white and pink flowers.




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