Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Food


Guest Post by Ivette Soler, the Germinatrix  Small book cover

Growing food is obviously a GREAT thing to do. And more of us are doing it – not only doing it, but doing it really well. We are an informed group of food growers. We grow organic. We hate Big Ag, we are vehemently against Monsanto (Hiss! Boo!). We spread the word, hoping that others will grow food, too – even if they do it on a small scale, on a windowsill or porch, it counts! We want others to jump on board, we want converts to the cause! We KNOW we are doing the right thing; for ourselves, our families, our planet. We are hardcore. We Grow Food.

I recently wrote a book, just published by Timber Press – “The Edible Front Yard”. It is part manifesto, part design primer, and a lot of how-to. I make no apologies for the fact that it is largely about DESIGN. Edible Garden Design, which many think is an oxymoron.

The other day I was signing books at an event where incredible tomato varieties were being sold (I came home with a buttload of fantastic starts!), and in addition to the enthusiasm people had for the ideas in the book, there was something else I heard over and over, and it started to rankle: “I don’t grow anything I can’t eat.” This statement was usually accompanied by a grunt and a proud swagger as they strode off to get to the serious stuff – buying their tomatoes. No time for some lady going on about the way things LOOK.
Pretty edibles HEY!!! Wait a minute! I grow food. I am hardcore! But I am also a proud GARDENER. I love plants – I am mad about them; somewhat obsessed, as a matter of fact. I love the sensual pleasure of glorious, well thought-out plantings. The intoxicating smells of Cleveland sage, brugmansia, orange blossoms; the amazing sight of my Beschornia blooming – its enormous flower bud rearing its head like a strange monster; the felty softness of lambs ears and peppermint scented geraniums … I live for these pleasures. They feed me like the food I grow feeds me – my heart sings every time I set foot outside and experience the wonder of this garden I made.

I want my food, but I want it pretty. I don’t see what the problem could possibly be with that. I like my edibles integrated with other plants that have the visual interest and strength to support my food during the growing season and beyond – but that’s just how I roll.


Does this make me a sissy? Are my priorities out of whack? Am I not using my land well if I plant ornamentals alongside my edibles to help integrate them into a landscape that is as beautiful as it is productive? And is it wrong to suggest to others who grow food in the visually public space that is the front yard that they think about the aesthetics of their edible garden as well as its cultural health and potential harvest? We are up in arms when HOAs refuse to let their stakeholders plant edible gardens in front yards, but when a solution is offered – to make those gardens neat and visually appealing, to make certain that maintenance is taken care of, and to take care to create a garden that spans the seasons, we STILL manage to have a problem with that. Sigh!

LLS garden

I have seen so many beautiful front yard edible gardens of various styles, and they all have something in common – their creators are thinking not only of themselves, but of the world around them. They are thinking about their neighbors, their community. We who live in neighborhoods are financially interconnected; what you do on your property can very easily impact the value of mine. A front yard that is, for many months of the year, a fallow farm can attract all matter of unwanted attention. Sure, food was grown there, and that is awesome – but if we can make it look fantastic as well, then why NOT? We win converts to the cause that way, and isn’t that a really good thing? Right?

Oh – I forgot. You don’t plant anything you can’t eat. My bad.

Just leave a comment and Ivette will choose one at random.  Entries close Friday 3/25 at midnight EDT.

Photo credits:  Top by Ivette Soler.  Middle by Rebecca Sweet. Lower by Laura Livengood Schaub.


  1. no. 1, yeah. My dream is to have a gorgeous potager one day, probably when the kids are older, however for now I love looking at books on the subject.

  2. If you’re growing your own food because it is healthier, how can you ignore the benefits of surrounding yourself with beauty? I’ve been a big admirer of Rosemary Verey’s vegetables gardens. She knew how to make this beautiful and useful.

  3. I am fortunate where I work the owners let me plant an edible ornamental garden last year. Its a small spot about 10 ft by 10 ft. It has to be fenced due to major rabbits residing in the area. But it gives our customers something better to look at vs the standard commercial plantings that the landscapers use in my area. We even got a few lines of press from a state travel green website! I now have the challenge of coming up with something even better this year. Your book will inspire me to do a better job!

  4. The front yard of my previous home was devoted entirely to food growing in raised beds and perennials because that is where the sun shone. It was radical in my neighborhood (close quarters) but ended up being the key to meeting my neighbors who wanted to learn food growing too but felt intimidated by the idea (organic veggies are good human bait). Last fall we had to sell our house suddenly and it sold within hours of listing in a stale market. Our conservative agent thought the garden was a detriment and should be sodded over for showing. We happily proved him wrong. I told him he could come eat my yard any time. 😉

  5. Our tiny front yard is filled with perennials, but we are turning the wide terrace (hell strip, tree strip, parkway, etc.) into a garden. I want to put some edibles in there with the other plants.

  6. I’ve been combining vegetables with flowering perennials and annuals for years. My garden never looks quite as good as your pictures but it feeds my stomach and my soul.

  7. Nothing warms the cockles of my heart than a garden bed planted to the brim with vegetables, herbs, and flowers and topped up with rich compost! Why can’t we have it all?

  8. I am in love with the front garden shown in the middle photograph! I want something like that! I’m looking forward to reading your book for more such inspiration.

  9. Planning. I plan to do that one day, maybe when I grow up. However, since I’m in my mid 40s, don’t see it happening. I admire the ability in others, though. I pretty much want one of everything.

  10. I’m just one step away from the ‘I only grow things I can eat crowd’. With me it’s food and flowers.
    Food is good, pretty food is better.

  11. Just these couple of photos make me want to read the book and get a closer look. I often add herbs to my garden, why not add more edibles?

  12. Edibles grow best within a plant community – where flowering plants draw pollinators or can serve as decoys to attract the bad bugs. Just because you can’t eat it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose 🙂

  13. I’m starting my fifth year growing vegetables at home, and last year I got busy at work and failed to include flowers in my vegetable patch out back.

    It’s the only year I’ve lost crops to bugs. I harvested a handful of small cukes early in the season, and no squashes at all. It was astounding.

    This year, not only am I growing the old standby marigolds that have helped in the past, but I’ve gone all out and ordered dozens of types of flower seeds to see what’ll work around here.

    Welcome, beneficial insects. Please make yourselves at home.

  14. I find that more and more of my vegetables are escaping my 4-square garden and making their way to the ornamental borders each year. Partially due to the designated veggie garden being slowly shaded out by the massive chestnut tree, partially to the pure asthetics colorful veggies add to the mix. I’d love to see Ivette’s take on this. Count me in!

  15. OK, on the advice of the Garden Ranters, I checked your book out of the library. As a longtime fan of Rosalind Creasey, I thought, oh yeah, good topic, but my front yard is Bambi World and shaded by huge pine trees and there’s no way I’m planting my veggies anywhere but in the back. But darlin’! I love the book and am ordering my very own copy today. It was probably the photo referred to by Deborah, above — the middle one in this post — that made my mouth drop open and my book lust kick into gear. I want that garden! Not really, but I do wish I had the design skills to do something that bold, even with my back garden. I happen to have a new section of garden (wrested last fall from a jungle of weeds and annual grasses) waiting to be planted this spring. I had planned to have a token ‘perennial (flower) border’ occupy that corner. But now…………. I’m definitely scheming on something edible AND beautiful. And who knows, maybe I’ll find something that &^$#^& bambi won’t eat for the front yard. Thanks for the wonderful, inspiring book.

  16. I planted my tomatoes among my flowers last year, and they did well. I also crafted an herb garden bordered by stones on top of a rotted old tree stump (which, before we moved in last year, was overrun with hundreds of daylilies).

    I also planted a White Pearmain apple tree in the same area, along with two blueberry bushes (only one made it through the winter, alas, so I must plant another for pollination), and have some black raspberry bushes (one from Lowe’s, two from a wild area in the neighborhood–guess which ones are growing better?). I don’t have a lot of space in the sun; thinking of those “upgrowing” cages to try some cukes. Also the north side of the house gets decent sun, so I may just put pots on the narrow concrete walk there. What can I grow in pots? Lettuces? Cherry tomatoes? Peppers? Will try some extra basil for sure.

    My father-in-law has offered to buy me a small plot of land to grow veggies on; not much is available in the city limits that is suitable, but there are some nice spots that are a twenty-minute drive or less. I just like being able to walk everywhere.

  17. I would love some ideas to incorporate some edibles into my front garden. The neighbours already think I’m nuts so it would provide added entertainment for them!

  18. I’m still a window sill grower (live in an apt.) but can’t wait till I have a lawn to plant in. Put my name in the hat.

  19. I’m planting my first garden this year and we’re really trying to make a garden that feeds us and looks beautiful at the same time (since it’s a pretty small space). Thanks for more inspiration. 🙂

  20. i moved this past fall and have not learned the a lay of the land as to how everything drains and what shade will be like once the trees have leaves. looks like this year will be edibles in windoboxes and pots where i know there will be sun, but just wait until next year…muwahahahaha!

  21. I just realized this weekend that the best spot to grow vegetables in my yard is outside my fence, by the street. I’ll just have to view it as ornamental, as I expect quite a bit will be “five-fingered,” but if it looks good – good enough.

  22. My front garden is hidden by a hedge but I still like everything ‘pretty’. Besides roses, sunflowers, day lilies, violas, nasturtiums and calendula are all edible!

  23. Preach it! I think the biggest obstacle to getting people to plant (or communities to allow) edible gardening is the perceived “mess” factor.

    “I have seen so many beautiful front yard edible gardens of various styles, and they all have something in common – their creators are thinking not only of themselves, but of the world around them.”

    Pure gold. Thank you.

  24. LOVE the comments, Rant Readers! It is so fantastic to hear that so many of you are into beautiful food – because it REALLY can be! And Lil Ned – right on! I am so pleased that you like the book and I hope it can give you – ALL of you – some companionship while you create your edible front yard (or side yard, or yes – even back yard) dreams.

    The garden in the middle is glorious, isn’t it? It is the amazing front yard of Freeland and Sabrina Tanner in Northern California – I swoon! Props to Rebecca Sweet for sharing it with me!

    I’ll be checking in every now and then – how awesome hearing from this group!

  25. This kind of gardening marries both form and function in the best possible way, kind of like a gorgeous quilt does. I look forward to reading the book and getting ideas for a couple of future growing areas recently “rescued” from less-than-pretty shrubbery around my house.

  26. Thank you for posting such fantastic pictures. They are sassy and smart. Exactly the inspiration I need to revamp the grass front yard.

  27. Love this post! I’ve been incorporating Edibles into public green-space restoration for almost a decade! Started out with herbs and other non-fruiting (at least above ground!) plants – then slyly grew my repertoire wherever it complimented the cultural significance of each site. Last year we artfully grew corn, eggplant, kale, tomatoes, and about 20 other fruiting/leafy edibles into an historic Olmsted designed public park – and no complaints!!

  28. Hi Ivette! Okay first off – if I’m the lucky winner of the contest, please pick another as I already own your gorgeous book! But I had to comment to let you (and everyone else) know how awesome your book is. As a fellow designer, this is one area that seems to fall through the cracks and you did an amazing job showing us, step by step, how to achieve a gorgeous front yard edible garden. I’ve been so inspired that I’m ripping out my front lawn (even though its small) & planting edibles. Hooray! Oh – and for those of you who love the middle photo, I took it while visiting Freeland & Sabrina Tanner in Napa. They’re AMAZING garden designers who have built (and maintain) this garden ALL BY THEMSELVES! They’re my superstar heroes!!

  29. Love it! I’m currently in the process of re-doing our landscapes with a focus on edibles. We started with our backyard of course because I knew that converting our front lawn would take a lot more design research for me, especially if I wanted to appease my nieghbors and draw interest from my local commmunity. This is a trend we should embrace and encourge we need to grow our own now more than ever! Thank you for this much needed book that you created! I need to get a copy ASAP!

  30. you’re singing to the choir sis’ta.
    Whenever I come across one of those ‘only plant what I can eat’ gardeners I ask them if they don’t enjoy the bright colors of nasturtiums, borage, salvia, marigolds. roses, rosemary or chrysanthemums , because they are edibles too.

    The way I see it, there is so much ugliness in the world, why not make something beautiful and functional ?

  31. I LOVE this! I would like to say a big “pishaw”! to those who ONLY grow what they can eat. Beauty, supporting other wildlife (including our dear insect friends), lovely scents, education, amazement, intrigue, so many important reasons to be diverse.

    XO many times over from Greenwoman Magazine

    P.S. I ADORE that you used the word “buttload.”

  32. I just spent a lovely Saturday morning at a seminar given by a local Master Gardener group. The lead speaker was Rosalind Creasy who has been promoting edible gardening for decades. I was thrilled to hear her speak and purchase her book. I would like to begin incorporating edibles into my front yard. I am concerned about the appearance of my property. I’m not that concerned about whether the neighbors like it or not, I want to like it myself. And I will NEVER be someone who only plants things they can eat. I would never limit myself or my garden to that degree.

  33. May your book inspire many to give designing an attractive food garden a go. We recently bought a second house in Asheville and need to have very low maintenance plantings there. I decided they also needed to be native. Guess what? The foundation shrubs planted by the builder were blueberries, which also happen to be native to that area. We are making the small fron yard a swath of Blueberries of various types. They are beautiful in all seasons, flowering, berries, fall foliage color and reddish bare stems in winter. Beautiful food.

  34. I have run out of room on the side of my house and spent the weekend eyeing my front beds. Peppers are going in this week, but I would love some design advice!

  35. Will I eventually have my Cherokee Purples growing in the front yard ? I sure hope so. The back yard is becoming more & more shady as the neighbors’ trees grow taller & wider. I would much prefer having neighbors come into my yard to steal tomatoes than to let their dog “do its business” on the lawn, which seems to exist for no other purpose. But I’ve yet to convince hubby of the beautiful possibilities of a front yard potager. He’d rather blend in, with the same old grass-and-shrubs look as the neighbors. Slowly I’m making my conversion anyway. Most of the shrubs – nearly anonymous, chosen by the developer for easy-care & visual blandness – are gone now. They’ve been replaced with rose bushes & citrus as edible ornamentals, and perennials for drama & pollinator action. Wonder how much sod I can replace before said husband takes note ?

  36. I am looking for any “shade tolerant” vegetables? Are there not any…just a little shade? I struggle to find a spot with enough sun to sustain a squash. This book looks inspiring enough to CUT DOWN those trees.

  37. The sunniest spot on my property is in the middle of the front lawn. As soon as I can convince my husband that we don’t need a lawn, in goes a mixed edible/ornamental bed. In the meantime, I grow lettuce, spinach and garlic in a partial sun ornamental border. I let the lettuce bolt, as the dark purple leaves look great with the little yellow blooms.

  38. Thanks for the inspiration. In my shady garden, I have limited veggies to onion, chives and garlic ‘companion’ planted with my beloved David Austin roses in the patch of sunshine… With today’s economy I would like to plant more edibles, perhaps upward as in your photo, it would be possible to capture more hours of sunshine.

  39. I already have your book, so if you randomly generate me, feel free to pick again. I love your point – growing good food and creating good design are not mutually exclusive. My tiny front yard is my only sunny spot. I’ve already scandalized the neighborhood by eliminating the lawn. Maybe it’s time for me to take the next step.

  40. Darling Ivette, thanks once again for giving my old front yard garden another shot at immortality. And I want to echo something about it that Rebecca mentioned: Most of the gardens in your book are NOT expensive to install or maintain; but they do need the loving hands of a gardener year-round to look their best.

    As for grow only what you eat, I’d just like to observe that not everyone gardens the same, or has the same aesthetics. We’re designers, we garden like designers, with more than the usual eye to form, color, repetition, texture etc. Other people’s mileage may vary!

    What’s important is: more folks are getting inspired grow food! The Urban Homestead trend is really taking off; thanks for being such a colorful part of it!

  41. I’m still trying to figure out how to get my front yard looking nice. All the sun is in the back yard, so the front yard needs some help. I’d love to turn it into a little paradise, especially since so many of our neighbors have absolutely nothing going on in their front yards besides sad looking grass.

  42. I’m still trying to figure out how to get my front yard looking nice. All the sun is in the back yard, so the front yard needs some help. I’d love to turn it into a little paradise, especially since so many of our neighbors have absolutely nothing going on in their front yards besides sad looking grass.

  43. I used to be flowers/ornamentals ONLY (tiny condo garden at my parents’ home, then windowsills in nyc). Didn’t even consider branching into edibles until i had a home and .2 acres of my own. I’m slowly chipping away at the lawn in front (bamboo, yews, perrenials), did put some jerusalem artichokes on the side of the house – an edible that’s SUPER showy (and spready). Front lawn is north facing under a huge crab apple and norway maple, so not a lot of effort there, mostly in the south facing backyard.

    i think there will always be a tendency for “us” vs. “them” – in this case, the “food only” tribe is doing their “movement” a disservice by not welcoming all-comers and new-comers. growing plants alone can be tough, and food can be even more intimidating. i had played with all kinds of plants for years, and only now am i getting comfortable with “farming”. Maybe think of petunias as the “gateway” plant to tomatoes.

    I secretly still prefer to grow ornamentals only, but with the space and sun, i’d feel guilty if i didn’t grow food that i could bring home to mom.

    But i’m learning – it’s been equally exciting to see the garlic coming up as it has been to watch the petasites and daffodils.

    To anyone who’s already in the garden planting – i’m so jealous…

  44. I agree that not every plant needs to be edible, but in my front yard every attempt is made to find plants that are edible and pretty. Luckily edible plants are beautiful too. But my front yard would just be a farm without the rhododendrons, hydrangeas, poppies, rockroses, lupine, birch trees, mugo pines, columbine, helebore, spurge, and assorted bulbs. I cannot wait to not only get all the veggies growing but also to plant all the annual flowers that will not only look great but attract tons of good bugs and the local bumblebees.

  45. I WISH I could grow tomatoes in my yard, but it’s just too shady. On the bright side, the day I discovered hostas, and how graceful their long-stemmed blooms looked swaying in a light breeze, was the day I became a gardener. It’s such a pleasure figuring out how to make the most out of beautiful plants, whether you can eat them or not.

  46. My aunt got me started on this–first time I ever saw tomatoes and peppers thrown into the flower borders, all I could think at the time was, “What?!? You’re allowed to do that?” followed shortly thereafter by, “What a fabulous idea!”

  47. I have no front yard and no back yard. I’m an apartment-dwelling city girl but I have a large plot in a community garden. My first few years I only planted edibles because I had a small space and wanted to eat! But as the space I could plant got larger I have slowly added flowers.
    There is nothing better in the early spring when just about nothing is green (and more so this year when even the kale struggled through the harsh north-east winter)and there is so much prep to do, to see first the snow drops,then the crocuses and now the daffodils and hyacinths pushing their way up looking for the sun.
    Doesn’t fill the belly but fills the soul.

  48. As a VERY biased observer (I work for Timber, the publisher of the book), I’m glad to see so much excitement on GR! Ivette’s book deserves it! (And don’t pick me, since, well, I have plenty of opportunities to acquire Ivette’s book.)

    If anyone wants to read a small excerpt, we posted one on the Timber blog a few weeks ago. As if you really needed any more reasons to enter this drawing.

  49. It was, I believe, a Persian poet who said “hycinths are bread for the soul.”
    I share ripe tomatoes with my neighbor, but all passersby share in the visual delight of my non-edibles — a healthy community needs both.

  50. I think the front beds are beautiful. I am planting more edibles in all of my garden beds. 95% of my garden is flowers and shrubs but we all need to get back to nature and start growing our own.

  51. I don’t grow anything that I don’t love and I don’t love anything that I don’t grow. There. Now, may I have the book, please?

  52. I would love to find a way to grow more food in my front yard, but it’s quite a slope. Someday I’ll find the means to terrace it, but for now I’m looking for a fruit tree to espalier against a wall and planning to use herbs and lettuce as filler in a small flower bed. I’m always looking for new ideas.

  53. Last year we started gardening with tomatoes and this year me and my 2 children are growing a garden to include letuce, tomatoes, peppers and all kinds of herb. We don’t have much space but they all seem to be growing well in pots! 🙂 wish us luck! 🙂

  54. Last year we started gardening with tomatoes and this year me and my 2 children are growing a garden to include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and all kinds of herb. We don’t have much space but they all seem to be growing well in pots! 🙂 wish us luck! 🙂

  55. I’m working hard to actually have a PLAN as I begin to garden at my new house. And for once, after years of on and off vegetable gardens that played second fiddle to my flower gardens, I’d like to have a beautiful vegetable garden as well.

  56. Even leaving aside aesthetic concerns (and I say that as someone growing over a hundred species, only a handful of which are edible by humans!) I’ve found that if I stick veggies in with the rest of the garden, particularly among the native plants, I don’t lose any to bugs. The leaves of the broccoli may get chewed to lace by harvest-time, but they’re attached to a perfectly good head. My tomato hornworms are all covered in little white wasp larvae and barely touch the tomatoes, and there’s enough dill to share between me and the swallowtail caterpillars.

    All those ornamentals bring in the bugs, which bring in the predators, who are just as happy to patrol my food crops. If I planted just veggies, I suspect I’d spend a lot more time yanking pests off my plants. Planting all those ornamental natives means that my vegetable garden is a heckuva lot less effort to grow!

  57. Ivette here! I wish I could “like” these comments like on facebook – yes yes yes to everyone and their edible plans, dreams, and advice! RIGHT ON!!!

  58. Can’t wait to read the book..
    I have a suburban edible front yard, teach small scale gardening, sell custom heirloom tomatoes and have co-opted our lovely neighbors sunnier front yard. Spring gardening means that I am under a spell for three months.. three months of new possibilities, new cultivar trials, new bird, bee and lizard love alliances, subtle sun, moon, leaf changes each 24 hours…a time to see – each day- unfolding Glory.. Over the years our garden has evolved to include, kitchen herbs, native medicinal plants, beneficial animal habitats and perennial edibles.. blueberries, strawberries, native herbs and now TEA PLANTS…. It is the very best of times…

  59. I’ve had front yard veggies for 5 years now and this season I’m focusing on making it pretty. The first 5 years was about turning grass into garden (and I did it with only a shovel and newspaper – no tilling or sod cutting for me!). I didn’t do too bad but there is, um, room for improvement.

    I hope the book has advice for northern climate gardeners (zone 5).

  60. One year I bought a particular variety of lettuce seed specifically to match my purple leaved smoke bush. The bush sucked all the water out of the soil and the lettuce floundered. There is more to integrating vegetables with more traditional ornamentals than just making things pretty. You have to match the plants to the growing conditions as well. But I happpen to think towers of bolted lettuce are aesthetically appealing.

  61. I’m growing burgundy okra (with hibiscus-type flowers) in my front yard this year, along with rosemary, thyme, and possibly some peppers. The rest of my vegetable garden is hidden in back. I’d love to look at more photos like the ones featured above, and to get inspired to find attractive ways to plant more edibles out front!

  62. Nature didn’t separate the edible from the inedible, and as I want to echo some of the best themes from nature, I won’t either. An almond tree in bloom is just as gorgeous as any de-fruited flowering prunus. And, those California poppies have the prettiest foliage and flowers to brighten up under the just beginning to bud apple trees. If we don’t allow for haphazard surprise and curious beauty in our gardens, then it becomes difficult for a yard/garden/minifarm to be an extension of the home, which is what it really should be.

  63. Honeoye strawberries as groundcover, an Honeycrisp apple for shade, the structural impact of my huge rhubarb hill, a Seckl pear, a border of Frontenac grapes…and chives, chives, and more glorious chives! What’s not to love?

  64. Gazing fondly at my tomato starts as I write this … but admittedly I have a lot to learn about making my veggie gardens more beautiful. This book is top of my list.

  65. Lawns are not only wasteful, but DULL. And there is nothing like the first taste of the first fruit you ever grow at home. In the past I’ve stuck things wherever there was space and light. This year I am working on the design factor too. Why on earth would anyone think ornamentals and edibles are mutually exclusive?

  66. I would love to win this book! I grew tomatoes and peppers in my perennial/shrub border last year and loved the look of them playing so nicely with the salvias, phlox and peegee hydrangeas! Bring it on!

  67. I pay so much attention to my back yard as a vegetable sanctuary and always consider what would happen if this spilled out into the front yard. Your manifesto gives me some ideas!

  68. I began the transformation of my front/side yard years ago, replacing grass with raised beds, one per year. This year we upped the ante significantly when we were given some beds by a neighbor who is planning on moving and didn’t think the beds would help sell the house. We gladly accepted.

    We now have eleven beds to work with and I’m looking forward to reading this book as I have one anal-retentive lawn obsesser in the neighborhood to passify. We bribe him with bunny therapy at the moment but it sure wouldn’t hurt to make those beds look like something besides oversized graves. :-s

  69. Love the photos of your gardens! We too plant a very large veggie garden and can the extra produce as well as give to family.
    Happy Gardening!

  70. The only drawback to the front yard veggies is the arse factor. I much prefer being in the privacy of my back yard when I am in the weeding position, head down, butt up.

  71. Anyone who opposes incorporating aesthetics into food gardening clearly misses how beautiful home grown food is. I can’t wait to read this book.

  72. yes yes yes…but! Those photos aren’t showing the kind of food gardens the HOA’s and snooty neighbors are complaining about. You have to look real hard to find a food crop plant in the well designed mix. Heck – you could grow pokeweed and poison ivy in the second photo and no one would complain!!

    As I drive around town I see a few folks that actually grow food in their front yards and they don’t do anything to hide it. More than likely it is their only hope at full sun.

    Good design is good design. It don’t matter what the plant is, and you can find beauty anywhere if you look.

  73. I have only so much time and energy to devote to my yard and only a few sunny spots where most things will thrive. Something either needs to love shade or provide me with something (fruits, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers) for me to plant it and take the time to tend to it.

  74. I fear I am turning into the ‘I only grow things I eat’ type of person. When I moved into my house, I started a huge list of plants that I had to have so that I could rank them and choose carefully. The result? Half of the backyard is ready/devoted to vegetables and I’ve impulse bought a mixed variety blueberry hedgerow, fig tree and pomegranate shrub. Most of my 1/10 acre is gone!

  75. All you need is a seed pack and a dream. Put the seeds in the ground and watch your food grow, you are instant envy of all your neighbors. I love front yard gardening. I feel out and about with out even leaving the house. 🙂 See you Thursday at the SF show.

  76. Form follows function is a mantra of design. Even those that only grow what they can eat, which can be very narrow-minded IMO, should do so in a beautifully designed space. When I placed huge steel boxes in my front yard when we were first landscaping, I caught our HOA president looking down in them with skepticism for approving our plan! These pictures show you can have it all.

  77. I will definitely be checking out your book!

    I was sold on the whole edibles/ornamentals mix years ago (it just makes sense!), but my mother is still a perennials only person. I think your book might convince her to let me plant tomatoes and cukes in with the dahlias and zinnias and phlox this spring.

    For all those who say vegetable gardens can’t be beautiful, check out the Potager de l’Abondance.

  78. I would love to learn more! It would be great if I could transition to an edible front yard over the course of a few years. That way, I’d learn from my mistakes without spending too much in a single year.

  79. “I don’t grow anything I can’t eat”, reminds me of the people who self-righteously say “I haven’t owned a television since 1974″….and try to make you feel bad for loving Top Chef.

    Yay for ornamentals and edibles. I figure the ornamentals pull in the beneficials and pollinators and help the edibles along.

  80. Hey, some people feel they’re not cool until they’re a hardcore, no-exceptions “farmer.”

  81. Am still a newbie when it comes to veggie/edible gardening. As I don’t have a set area for veggies, I’ve been planting them amongst the flowers/ornamentals. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but then again gardening is always a bit of an experiment.

  82. Despite my good intentions, my veggie patch always ends up a beautiful mess due to all the volunteers (zinnias, coneflowers, cosmos, etc.) that sprout where they will and tenderheartedness that keeps me from pulling them. A little design sense might add a touch of order to the chaos; nevertheless it feeds our souls on the way to the dinner table.

  83. Ivette…you’re hillarious, practical, and a wonderful writer. I’m well on my way to a fully edible garden. I just don’t want to plant anything that I’d end up wasting. My challenge with some of these plants is knowing WHEN to harvest and HOW to harvest so that the plant stays healthy and producing. I do have your book now though and look forward to absorbing the info.

  84. Sounds like a great book, I have been thinking about planting kale with my flowers in the front yard! I will have to try sneaking in a few more edibles in the front!

  85. Great points. If I had only 30 minutes a week to spend on gardening, I’d only grow edibles. But if you love to do it, why not do it up?

    Naomi, a good friend who worked a relentlessly theft-ridden community garden plot deterred stealing by planting strange-looking foods: tomatoes that ripen purple and brown, for example. Good luck!

  86. I couldn’t agree more! Elitism of any kind – and especially in the organic, sustainability, and slow food movement – hurts us all. It’s super important that gardening become, continue to be, and stay inviting to all. If we preach down with Big Ag, we’ve got to set positive examples to inspire others who otherwise wouldn’t garden on their own. Thanks for a great post!

  87. What a beautiful book. We now have no grass at all in the front yard, and just a small patch in the back. We’ve lived here for six years and never mowed. It’s such a pleasure to grow other things besides grass, and with each season, more things are grown here that can be eaten by us, shared with our neighbours. I’d love a copy of this book (pick me!) for more inspiration and guidance. Thanks for your great resource here on Garden Rant.

  88. Those who only grow what they can eat are missing out on the natural pest control that comes from marigolds, nasturtium (edible, yes) and the like.

    My vegetable garden has been in the front yard for two years. But the yard is tiered and the lower tier is all perennials.

    I’ve been going for a “colonial village” look but perhaps you have some better ideas for disguising corn as an ornamental?

  89. Nothing makes me happier than picking a bouquet of flowers to grace the table set with my garden-supported meal.

    I was lucky to live in a rural area where no one could really see my front yard, but I plan to do a nice design for my suburban lot incorporating edibles and non-edibles.

  90. Wow, this is the inspiration we need to make our front yard work for us. Why mow when you can grow vegetables. Tasty!

  91. Ain’t nothing wrong with having a garden that makes you and your belly feel good inside and out, fulfills you, and happens to look good too! I teach a course on food in the landscape and happen to live in a neighborhood where 60% of us have food growing, not in the small way, but in the my fence is a wall of bitter melon with peonies kind of fence. It is fun, looks good and tastes good. It takes work but designed and organized well, it takes care of itself more than you think. Berries with herbs and umbellifers? I mean come on, what is not to like? Preach on Ivette.. that’s how we too on the East Coast roll!

  92. Love it. I think feeding this soul should go right along with feeding the body. And I love that my thyme, my lavendar and my soon to be almond tree all beautify my front yard while making it edible.

    On a sidenote, I am the editor for an online lifestyle magazine for Southern Utah. I am looking for some pics and descrips of mini theme gardens. Any ideas or pics? (we would give credit)

  93. Edible front yards face only one major obstacle… Americans think they won’t look nice. Most of them have never seen designs like these, and if they had they would change their minds. I’d love a copy!

  94. Our old house’s front yard in an old suburb needs some design even if it’s basic. Our yard is so boring there’s no where to go but up.

  95. oooh. love the photos! I don’t have a front yard but have an edible garden in the back – same dilemma – how do you make it look good especially when the growing season slows down. I’d be interested in suggestions of what to put in raised beds late fall to early spring in addition to those not-so-pretty cool season veggies.

  96. I have been planting tomatoes, jalapenos, herbs… In the front yard with my perennials for a few years now. I love it and most people don’t even notice. The book looks inspiring! I’m excited to see a copy and maybe have it on my shelf!

  97. I’m finally moving into my very own house this spring, where I will finally be able to garden in something other than containers.

    I like it pretty–ornamentals are dear to my heart–but I need veggies too. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

  98. Fabulous! Timely and spot on.

    For me, structure is largely missing in the ‘normal’ veggie garden. Bring on the potager! Long live structure!

    Designing gardens — beginning with winter which levels tiny perennials and piles on the snow — should absolutely extend to ALL gardens. Isn’t that the point?

  99. I always wonder if I have enough sun to grow edibles – my yard has a lot of trees (which I love) and thus a lot of shade. But the front yard is a little sunnier than the back – so maybe I could have something pretty and yummy!

  100. I’m nearly an “I only grow things I can eat” person – but thats more because I only seem to be able to keep veggies alive! I am a cruel mother and neglect all of my flowering plants and see to kill them off…. Sigh I am trying to fill the garden with more perennials but am just a bit rubbish…. Some of my veggies are pretty… Maybe I just care more for the veggies and the flowers and pretty things resent this and die just to get back at me… Maybe we will never know LOL X

  101. I used to only grow edibles in my garden until my boyfriend started a lavender patch in one corner, which spread into an ornamental sage area and now there are flowers and lovely plants intermixed all over the garden. He always says to me, “flowers feed the soul.” He takes care of our souls while I work on our bellies.

  102. My summer project is an edible front yard. Now I just have to convince my husband to join the team !!

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