Eat What You Sow

BY DEB ACORD ON JUNE 15TH, 2016

In Rosalind Creasy's lush gardens in Los Altos, California, vivid dahlias share the stage with geraniums and cherry tomatoes, tulips coexist with delicate lettuce leaves and deep purple cabbages live in harmony with plump blueberries.

This fantastical-meets-practical approach to gardening has made Creasy a rock star in the world of garden landscaping. She has written 18 books, including "Edible Landscaping" and "Cooking from the Garden." For Creasy, combining edible and decorative plants is a perfect approach to gardening. "It changes your life and puts you in and touch with the earth, and with the seasons and with other people," she says. "I can grow beautiful roses and people will come and ask if they can pick them for their table. But when they come and pick my cherry tomatoes for a fresh salad, it's a different kind of connection."

When Creasy first started teaching people about edible landscaping more than two decades ago, it was considered a radical approach to gardening. "For a long time, there has been such a distinct line between the people who produce food in this country and the people who produce plants," she says. "Growing plants was mainly about weed control and disease control. There was no thought to aesthetics. There was always an emphasis on production for food, and beauty for ornamentals."

Creasy says there was also a disconnect between people who were gardening and people who were cooking. "That's changing, too," she says. "Now, there are so many cooks who have their own gardens. In the world of food, they've realized that fresh is really fresh."

In the gardens that surround her home, an ever-evolving mix of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers offer a lush landscape. "If I weren't me, I would envy me," Creasy says. "My house has a lot of windows that look out on the garden. I'm fed by looking at beautiful things, just like I'm fed by beautiful music."

Creasy changes her garden twice a year. Coming up: a small wheat crop; different colors of bok choy; cilantro, carrots, lettuce, onions, scallions and a vast blanket of tulips and daffodils in purples, yellows and reds. A giant Mexican sage engulfs an arbor, and strawberries welcome visitors to her front door.

Andrea Bellamy, Vancouver, B.C., grows her own gardens about 700 miles north of Creasy's. Like Creasy, Bellamy focuses on growing edibles that are pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. She is the author of "Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden" (Timber Press, 2011) and writes about gardening on her blog, www.heavypetal.ca

Bellamy says her favorite vegetable plants are peas and beans, not just for their taste "but also because they create fabulous screens and make great use of vertical space."

She says she often experiments with plants and edible flowers, and she says she makes "a nice lavender shortbread."

Both seasoned gardeners suggest beginners start small as they experiment with their gardens. "I call herbs 'edible plants with training wheels,'" Creasy says. "They can make quite an impact on your kitchen. Thyme, lemon thyme, sage, chives, parsley and cilantro can make all the difference in your meals."

"Herbs are easy to grow," Bellamy says. "And because they are so pungent, most repel damaging insects while still attracting other pollinators."

 

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