Practical & Magical Coexist in the Edible Garden

By Kym Pokorny

As enthusiasm for edibles continues to skyrocket, so does gardeners’ sophistication. While vegetables are still No. 1, fruit, especially plants appropriate for small spaces such as blueberries, strawberries, columnar and espaliered fruit trees and dwarf versions of raspberries and blackberries, are quickly making their way into landscapes.

The Abundant Nature: An Enchanted Food Forest display at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, on Feb. 28 through March 2, ups the ante on edible gardening even further, taking it into the realm of nature, enchantment and the ultimate in reuse.

Photo: PermacultureNews.org

Four Portland designers teamed up to create a garden that pairs the practical with the magical. From edge to edge, the long, rectangular space illustrates the many ways we can feed our bodies and souls. On one end, a twig arbor opens into the edible part of the garden, with a circular raised bed for veggies, cold frame, spiral of herbs. On the far end, is a ruin, a space reimagined from the crumbling stone Witch’s House on Macleay Trail in Forest Park.

“The ruin points to how nature reclaims the earth when people step away; it’s a way to recycle materials onsite, like the foundation of an old garage, for example,” says Amy Whitworth of Plan-It-Earth Design, who collaborated with Kathryn Leech, River City Gardens; Annie Bamberger, AnnieBam Landscape Solutions; and Lora Price, Design With Nature. Jane Hart Design, Pete Wilson Stoneworks, and J. Walter Landscape & Irrigation also are display contributors.

The structure also acts as an enclosure for a fire pit and sliced tree stumps for seats, a nesting place for people to relax, and, if they choose, “imagine the spirits that jumped back in,” Whitworth says. A fairy garden right outside the ruin gives those spirits a place to play. Next door, a hobbit mound, situated on top of recycled tires like the “radically sustainable,” off-the-grid earthships started in Taos, New Mexico, puts a new spin on sustainability.

“As much as possible,” Whitworth says, “we’re showing how self-supporting and sustainable a garden can be, and that we can make gardens that create food for us and for wildlife abundantly.”
To help do that, the designers merged traditional edibles with natives in a food forest and, to take the concept even further into the self-sufficient range, a guild garden takes up a corner.

To help do that, the designers merged traditional edibles with natives in a food forest and, to take the concept even further into the self-sufficient range, a guild garden takes up a corner.

“A guild garden is a system of supporting growth by companion planting or layering,” Whitworth explains. “A tree can be underplanted with plants that draw minerals from deep in the earth and bring them to the surface. Then the leaves end up as mulch and feed the tree.

Be inspired and enchanted by the Abundant Nature: An Enchanted Food Forest display at the upcoming Yard Garden & Patio Show. There’s a lot to take away to your own garden.