3 gardeners share their design secrets

Great Western gardeners show how to grow food in gardens of any size

Favorites to feed the neighbors

  • 'Black Satin' blackberries

    • Blackberries
    • ‘Black Mission’ figs
    • ‘Eureka’ lemons
    • ‘Fuyu’ persimmons
    • ‘Utah Sweet’ pomegranates 

One look at Rosalind Creasy’s garden, and you know the garden designer and cookbook author will never go hungry. Nearly 60 kinds of fruit, vegetables, and herbs fill the beds, borders, and pots in her front yard alone, and vibrant color comes not from blooms but from crimson tomatoes, purple artichokes, and blueberries.

“The real wealth of this nation is its soil ― it’s our greatest natural resource,” she explains. “My goal is to use soil for its highest and best purpose, which is to grow food.” Video: How to get great dirt

Creasy was harvesting produce in her garden long before eating locally became cool. She wants to inspire people to replace ornamentals with edibles, and help them reconnect with their food. After writing her groundbreaking book, The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping (Sierra Club Books), she swapped her front lawn for edibles in 1985.

TIPS FOR DESIGNING WITH EDIBLES

Take it up a notch Combine edibles the same way you’d mix ornamental plants ― for color, form, and size.

Be creative with walls How about an edible wall? Creasy grows beans against a wire fence to create a living screen. And a thornless blackberry vine grown over a freestanding wall separates the garden into rooms. “My blackberry vines crank out for two months,” she says. “I have the fruit mashed with sugar and Cointreau over vanilla ice cream, or use them in a trifle or for jam.”

Grow vining crops on arbors They’ll extend the planting area. Creasy grows cherry tomatoes over an entry trellis and trains squash over a patio arbor. (See how to make arbors and trellises.)

Use containers as accents Half-barrels, available at garden centers, are big enough for any crop. Creasy painted one blue and cut holes into it. “If you punch holes in the sides, you can grow herbs out of the holes.”

Problem-solver Drip irrigation. “I killed lots of plants; I’d leave town and forget to water. But I haven’t lost a plant since I set up a drip system.” – J.C. 

More: Your complete guide to growing veggies

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