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My grandmother occasionally admonished me to “make myself useful as well as ornamental.” Is it any wonder then, I applied this adage to my gardens? I mentioned in another article, I love to tuck the edibles right in with my ornamentals, and sometimes the edibles ARE the ornamentals.

I nestle beefsteak tomato plants between the ninebarks. Just think of the gorgeous red tomato ‘Mortgage Lifter’ or ‘Black Krim’ playing off the bronze of the ninebark leaves? Sensational! Or for a silvery moonlight-themed garden try planting a silvery green artichoke plant, flanked by large edible sage plants, paired with dark purple flowering lavender (soft gray foliage) and possibly, a long lasting native penstemon — purple or blue of course. A royal theme would include anything gold — edible calendula flowers come to mind — with dark purple eggplants (in botanical terms, their name is a color and it is “aubergine.” A dwarf peach tree can be set off with a nice planting of peachy orange nasturtiums. Think vertical and imagine how stately and productive-a tall trellis of purple poles beans will be standing in the rose bed? Maybe a few of the dark purple basils (the variety ‘Dark Opal’ springs to mind) at the base of that trellis echoing the pole bean color? The possibilities are endless. And dare I say it: “food for thought?”

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