“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” they say (in fact who did first say that) but although we all love growing, and eating, vegetables can we really say they all look beautiful in our garden ?
Well I think most do, but if we have limited space, perhaps a town garden or just a raised bed or two, then wouldn’t it be great if we could combine growing vegetables with something nice to look at ?
Anyway I just thought a few ideas of particularly attractive vegetables, which could give you colour through a lot of the year, may be helpful.
(Just my ideas – sure you have lots of your own !)
How about starting with ‘Bright Lights’ Chard, really love this plant which can give quite vibrant colour from mid summer until quite late in the Autumn.
Now I know Broccoli is not everybody’s favourite, but an early sprouting purple broccoli can bring a bit of cheer to your veg. bed as early as March.
Sticking with the Broccoli family, you may even get the kid’s interested with the fascinating ‘Romanesco’
By seeding at different times, early Spring to July, you can get a crop through Summer to Autumn.
Allow a bit of room though, the plants can spread a bit !
I think the beautiful red flowers on Runner Beans are lovely, but unfortunately they are quite short lived before the beans come along.
But how about if you could grow beans where the actual bean pods themselves gave some really interesting colour ?
For example here is the Borlotti Bean
Again you can sow at different times to ensure colour from Summer to Autumn. You can pick them as ‘Dwarf’ beans or let them grow up a bit.
I love the colours of Borlottis, but how about a bit of a contrast with the ‘Hildora’ Dwarf Bean ?
This little bean, which keeps its colour after cooking, can be harvested from July onwards.
Some of the prettiest and daintiest vegetables are in the ‘Lettuce’ family ( huge family the ‘compositae’ even includes Sunflowers !)
Have a couple of real favourites though.
First the gorgeous ‘Red Salad Bowl’ bringing your bed such vibrant colours.
But can you imagine a circle of these lovely plants being offset by some Lollo Rosso, perhaps in the middle ?
You can keep seeding lettuces from February on to late summer, but they may need a bit of thinning.
Artichokes are another vegetable that doesn’t get everyone’s taste buds going – don’t care though, I love ’em !
The Violetta di Chioggia is a particularly beautiful plant.
Almost a shame to pick these, particularly as you only normally eat the base of the leaf.
They are perennials, but they may need some protection during the winter .
Ever tried fried Courgette flowers ? They are delicious !
Amazing crops you get from a Courgette plant too, for constant cropping you just need to keep picking. They will crop right up to late Autumn sometimes.
I like Borage in salads, and know people who also use it regularly in soups.
I also love its blue flowers.
(It’s used in both a traditional and modern medicine too, for a huge range of ailments!)
This is not an exhaustive list of wonderful looking looking vegetables, just a taster really (terrible pun.)
But I would like to finish on a real looker, but one perrenial you will need to keep under control.
The ‘Lardizabala’, which comes all the way from Chile.
(Like some of my favourite Sauvignon !)
This is an evergreen climber – that can turn into a tree.
The soft, pulpy fruit is considered quite a delicacy in Chile and Peru, anybody tasted one ?
Don’t forget that you can add lots of colour to your vegetable garden with companion planting too.
Nasturtiums for example, lovely edible plants that can attract caterpillars and black fly away from your beans and lettuces.
Marigolds too are really bright and lovely, and their smell wards off the Aphids, but attracts the Hoverflies which feed on them (the greenfly that is !)
Double Whammy !
This is the Tagetes erecta – the African Marigold.
In fact companion planting is a fascinating subject, but one for another blog.