Edible Beauty

There's nothing wrong with patches of pansies, huddles of hydrangeas and lush displays of lilies and phlox. But with a little creative planting, explains Jeff McIntosh, co-founder of American Gardens in Chagrin Falls and landscape designer-in-chief, flower beds and blooming borders can be gorgeous to look at and full of great things to eat.

"People think that growing food means setting aside space for long, straight rows of lettuce and carrots. But edibles can be ornamental and blend seamlessly with traditional decorative elements in front and back yards."

He's created a privacy hedge with asparagus, set parsley and lavender side by side, and added rhubarb to a perennial plot. Blueberry bushes, says McIntosh, make a good background feature and herbs such as oregano and thyme are lovely as ground cover. He recommends containers as another way to integrate food into the outdoor landscape. "Put a tomato and a pepper plant in a big pot with cilantro and a garlic bulb," he says. "Instant salsa garden." (440) 247-5564, www.american-gardens.net

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