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    A COMPENDIUM FOR THE DRY GARDEN

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Edible Low Water Landscapes

The no-brainer of edible landscapes are fruit trees and vegetable boxes.  But there is more, much more, especially for gardeners in temperate climates.  Those are the climates I know and here are some great landscape plants that have edible parts, usually fruits, for your garden design process.

One of my most all-time favorites is Ugni molinae, a Chilean plant that was imported to England in the 1800’s, grown ‘under glass’ and became a favorite food of Queen Victoria.  Hardy to around 10 degrees, its a handsome small leafed evergreen shrub.  Its fruit ripens in the late fall, tiny sweet berries that can be picked and eaten or made into jams.

Ugni molinae…yum yum

The fruit

I’ve already mentioned Ribes sp. in previous posts.  These are edible, though kind of tasteless berries.  Make them into pies, jams, and jellies.

The Genus Prunus, Cherry, has lots of landscape plants with edible fruits.  They are considered landscape plants because the seeds are big, yielding less pulp, but edible they are still and birds love them.  I’ll cover just one here, Prunus lyonii, a native to the Catalina Islands so technically this is a California native.  Its a large shrub or small tree growing 15-20′, drought tolerant once established and hardy to around 15 degrees.  Evergreen, large leaves, this is a very attractive functional shrub that can be used effectively as a screen. The fruits were an important source of food to California Indians.

Prunus lyonii fruit

Another great landscape shrub used for screening that has delicious fruit is the Pineapple guava or Feijoa sellowiana. My guatemalean crew is always collecting the tasty fruit that none of my clients seem to know is edible.  Not only is the fruit edible, but frankly I like the taste of the flowers even more.

Arbutus unedo makes a fine shrub or smallish tree.  It is evergreen with reddish peeling bark.  The tasty fruit makes a nice snack.

Some other low water landscape plants to incorporate are Thornless Blackberries, Citrus of all types, Gingko biloba tree, Italian Stone Pine, Sambucus (Elderberry), Figs and other types of drought tolerant fruit trees that work for your climate.

And don’t forget many ‘weeds’ are edible such as Dandelions (when you pull them in the spring the young ones are delicious), miner’s lettuce, and nettle (must be cooked but better tasting than spinach and highly nutritious).

Veggie gardens are a great addition to gardens but they require water every day.  Why not incorporate plants into your landscape that require little water yet give produce.

For more information on low water edibles as well as low water gardening tips, see my eBook Gardening for a Dry California Future available at Amazon.

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5 Responses

  1. Terrific article! Thank you!

    Like

  2. Hi,
    Thanks to your article, we’re considering a hedge of pineapple guava but are wondering how tall and wide the bush form grows. (Stats seems to be for standards.)
    Thanks

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  3. Wondering where you live? Of course, that would make some difference as the longer the growing season the bigger. But in general….I really don’t like the standards for the Feijoas. They are just not a plant that lends themselves to that look. They are a large shrub 18-25′ by the same but very easy to prune and keep smaller to around 10′ without it looking too weird. Sunset zones 7-9, 12-24. Good luck

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  4. Many thanks for an informative article! WE have many feijoias growing around here, I love the fruit, but never realized the flower was edible too! I’ll try them asap.

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    • I think the flowers are better tasting than the fruit! I really do recommend Ugni. They are a great low water landscape plant with terrific berry-like fruits

      Like

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