Though Garrett has been working edibles into his landscapes for more than 25 years, he too has seen the trend of incorporating vegetables, fruits, and herbs into gardens rise dramatically in the past few years, something he attributes in part to a public that has begun to question industrialized produce and wants to know exactly where their food comes from. He’s even seen the trend grow among corporate clients. At the Las Colinas Entertainment Center in Irving, Texas, he designed the planting plan for the forthcoming 15-acre mixed-use complex that not only includes edible plants but which will also be maintained organically, a move that could result in 40 percent less water use. That’s huge since, as Garrett notes, “In a commercial project, water can be the largest part of the cost.”
Another reason for the trend, says Amy Pennington, an urban gardener and author of Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, and Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home, is the surge in popularity of food and cooking shows over the last decade — coupled with the increased awareness of environmental politics. As Pennington says, “It was the perfect storm of these two issues coming together at the same time.”
Pennington also runs GoGo Green Garden, an edible-gardening business based in Seattle that builds, plants, and tends edible gardens for city dwellers who want not only a garden that provides them with seasonal produce but one that looks nice as well. “It is a challenge to make a garden look plentiful and pretty all year long, but it’s not impossible.”
Not everyone, though, sees the beauty of edible landscapes. Some homeowners associations put homegrown vegetables on the landscaping contraband list, preventing homeowners from planting vegetables and fruits in the front yard or even, in some cases, in their own backyards. While Pennington sees the logic of this (“HOAs are set up to create a consistent-looking environment,” she says), she also feels this will change in time as the trend toward growing edibles becomes even more popular. Until then, Pennington notes that there are ways to exercise one’s green thumb through container gardening or even by growing plants on a countertop indoors. She’s proof that it can work: “I live in an apartment in the city. I have a deck. … Still, I grow a lot of my own food in pots; that’s what I have to work with.”
And Rosalind Creasy’s front-yard garden? It, too, was born of necessity. “I have no sun in my backyard!” Creasy says. She found a sunny spot in the front yard and said, “I can make this look gorgeous. I put in basil, herbs, artichokes, peppers … then I put in lots of flowers.” Even with her plentiful bounty, Creasy has the prettiest garden on the street. Just ask her neighbor.