Landscapes rely on easy to care for trees, shrubs, perennials, and sometimes for the home gardener annuals and potted arrangements to come together.
Trees are often the foundations of the landscape after the home itself. Plenty of fruiting trees that make good crops also make fantastic landscape trees. Many cherries, apples, pears, apricots, citrus, peaches, pawpaw and plums are prime examples. Many are breathtaking the in the spring, beautiful in form, and they produce delicious fruit. There are many cultivars of fruiting trees with different growth heights at maturity, and all take well to pruning and shaping. Fruiting trees are passed often as landscape options in many landscapes because they can be messy, but this is only a problem if you’re not going to harvest the fruit from them. As edible landscape trees, most all fruiting trees are excellent landscape candidates.
Some less commonly known but very wonderful landscape fruit bearing trees include crabapples (they make the best jams and jellies!), hackberry (jams and jellies), and persimmon (can be used for anything and are absolutely delicious). Again, all take to shaping and are lovely in form. Crabapples often have glorious fall color, as do hackberry. Persimmon trees hold onto their fruit past leaf drop and are very ornamental in branching structure.
Nut bearing trees are also good landscape candidates where a large and stately tree is needed. Black walnut may come to mind but this would be the only exception in the landscape as they produce a very potent toxin that kills many species of plants within their root zone and beyond. An alternative tree that is making a much welcome comeback in the landscape is the Butternut. They look a lot like the stately black walnut but don’t possess as potent of a plant growth inhibitor in its root system. The nuts are also delicious. There are now disease resistant butternuts available. Hazelnut blooms when nothing else blooms and sports beautiful foliage in the fall. They are very small for trees, almost shrub like in proportion, which makes them very valuable from a design standpoint. Pecans and hickory, and some chestnuts will make good landscape trees as well.
There are so many flowering shrubs with delicious edible crops that are beautiful landscape specimens, that shopping for edible landscape shrubs may be more of confusing experience. In an effort to make the decision making task easier, we’ve picked a few of our favorites. These shrubs take to shearing and pruning; have beautiful bloom, foliage form and color, fall color, and popular edible crops. Paving
Blueberries are absolutely wonderful edible landscape plants. They are not as difficult to grow as many seem to think. There are many cultivars that range in form and color and fruiting. From extremely small and compact mounded forms to large and sprawling and tall forms, blueberries come in many flavors. Add some peat into each initial planting hole and mulch with compost or pine needles is all the pH adjustment they need, nothing complicated. They all bear adorable and sweetly scented spring flowers of pink and white. They all have attractive bushy foliage in a nice pleasing green, sometimes new growth being red or pink. They all bear delicious blue or pink fruit in the summer. And they all glow brilliantly red in the fall. They are super hardy, doing well in most all climates, even the coldest areas.
Elderberry has come to the forefront as a very potent and powerful natural medicine. It also happens to be a beautiful plant well suited to the landscape. There are cultivars available with purple foliage too, making them a striking addition to the landscape (especially when planted among chartreuse colors of foliage in other plants). The leaf form is lovely and unusual. The flowers are heavily fragrant and very attractive to pollinators. The berries are easily made into jams and jellies and juices. While often treated as a large perennial, they can reach shrub like proportions in one season and they need lots of space to spread out. They are super easy to grow, and as a native plant you’re doing your local ecology a favor by using elderberry in your landscape. You will need to plant more than one elderberry to ensure good fruit set. They prefer full sun but can tolerate some shade with grace. They don’t like to dry out so they’re not for xeriscaping or areas of the landscape that get dry.
Viburnums are common in the landscape as they are wonderful shrubs for all of the reasons we love landscape plants- great habit, form, colors, and variance in cultivars. Specifically for the edible landscape, the American Cranberry Bush, or Viburnum trilobum, is an especially valuable edible landscape shrub selection. The berries aren’t especially eaten fresh, but again they are very delightful as a jelly or jam. Another North American native plant, birds love them as well. Viburnums can handle more shade than other shrubs, and makes a great understory plant.