(article in the Winnipeg Free Press, May 5, 2012)
By: Naomi Audia and Paolo Riva

Medieval roots

Incorporating edibles into the landscape is a growing trend but one that has its practical roots in gardens dating back to the Middle Ages, when monastic gardens grew culinary herbs alongside flowers.

Raised beds made their debut in Tudor gardens in the 1500s and contained plants prized for their medicinal and culinary value. These utilitarian kitchen gardens were generally situated behind high walls, hidden by vines, shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants.

In the 1700s, Lancelot “Capability” Brown left his mark on landscape design when he grassed over formal gardens, replacing them with vast expanses of lawn.

But now, with our smaller landscapes, it isn’t only ecology-minded homeowners who recognize the benefits of using available space for a more practical purpose by integrating vegetables and herbs alongside flowering perennials and annuals. Shallow-rooted vegetables such as lettuces, young cabbages, tomatoes and strawberries can even be grown in window boxes.

Today’s article is by Naomi Audia and Paolo Riva, worker-owners of Urban Eatin’ Gardeners Worker Co-op, a Winnipeg gardening company that provides design and installation of edible landscapes — a diverse and decorative alternative to lawn! Check them out at www.urbaneatin.com.

Colleen.Zacharias@gardensmanitoba.com

W

hy is an expanse of lawn generally the homeowner’s primary landscape option? Some reasons could include its neat and tidy appearance, apparent ease of maintenance (and availability of lawn-care services), and its versatility as a play area. In all likelihood, the main reason for a lawn instead of something else is pure habit, a sort of traditional badge of civility. It may even hint at a certain aristocratic taste in its adoption, that is, a space that’s meticulously maintained simply for appearances.

Here we will compare the lawn to some alternative uses of this precious outdoor living space. We will offer alternatives to replace some, if not all, of that monotonous carpet with attractive and productive elements that give more than just the bland two-dimensional plane we’re used to seeing in the traditional yard…

Read the full ‘Incredible Edible’ article on Winnipeg Free Press.