The landscaping idea behind the The Edible Landscape is that there are many plants that look nice in the design, and add something that can be eaten. We don't grow fruit trees, but there are other attractive plants, low ones, middle sized, and other trees. Mix these into your garden, or plant them en masse.
Climbers (Vines) --
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
Black Walnut Black & White Walnuts
Black Cherry Black Cherry
Paw Paw Paw Paw
What you do is just plan them into your landscape design as if they were regular trees and plants. Starting at the tall tree level, then the smaller trees, shrub layer, and finally the low-shrubs and ground covers. Each level can have fruit-bearing plants incorporated. Then as they produce fruit, they give you a bounty of food. Nothing too strange about it really, plants are plants. Even if regular food-production is not the desired goal or processing is not worth the effort, certainly the nuts and berries enhance the local wildlife.
Some trees with edible fruits or nuts are nice shade trees, and you would plant those where you would otherwise plant a maple or oak for example. The Black Cherry, Walnuts, Red Mulberry, Chestnuts, Paw Paw, Beech, and other work well for shade. You also want to plant them where unharvested fruits or nuts won't litter driveways, walkways, or other sensitive areas. This would be particularly true of those trees that bear fleshy fruits.
Smaller trees and large shrubs, such as the Nanking Cherry, Northern Bayberry, American Hazelnut, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, Persimmon, Crab Apples, the regular fruit trees, all have more of a single specimen or focual point role in the landscape design. You plant these where space is more limited, and where visual appearance is the desire affect. Some of these make attractive flowers or have a pleasing shape. With a little pruning, they can be fine-tuned as well.
The next lower layer of the landscape design is the shrub layer. There are many small to tall shrubs that are hardy and bear fruits. Granted the berries can be bitter, but often they are very suitable for jams and perserves. The shrubs play a major role in supporting natural wildlife, and have been long planted in shelterbelts and other conservation type plantings. It is this group of plants that is quickly becoming popular for ornamental or landscape plantings. There are many shrubs here that we like including, the American Cranberry (Viburnum genus), Elderberry, Chokecherry, Serviceberries, Black Haw, the Wayfaring Tree. There are many species in the Prunus genus that produce edible or semi-edible fruits, and the majority of our regular hybridized fruit trees come from the Prunes. Plant these as single specimens, rows, or mixed with the taller trees.
The regular fruit bushes like the Blueberry, Aronia Berry, Blackberry and Raspberry, Huckleberry, Cranberry (Vaccinium genus), and the Currants and Goosberries, can also be substituted in places where you would otherwise plant a rose bush for instance. Plant these is groups, rows, or mix individually, and you get the added benefits of "edible" fruit.
Even those places where the design calls for a vine, such as along walls or fences, you can plant grapes instead of Wisteria or Virginia Creeper. Grapes are highly trainable, and the berries are of course easily picked and very popular.
Even the ground level, or those where annual flowers are planted, Strawberries and Lingonberries, plus Dwarf Cranberries or half-high Blueberries can be planted instead. And there's the benefit of not having to replant these every season.
Overall, substituting edible plants into the landscape design can be practical and functional. The supplies of many of these plants is often limited and typically sell out quickly, so early planning is always the best approach. Even though our available plants change from season to season, there are many interesting choices to consider.
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