Beyond Beautiful

   The more I learn about fruit bearing shrubs and plants the more I want to learn. Being able to grow one’s own food is very important to me. I want to know what I am putting into my plants so that I know what I am eating and feeding to my family. I am blessed to live in a state where much of its natural beauty is still very much preserved and undisturbed. My home is surrounded by mountains and forests; these expansive wilds were and still are my playground. As I grow older I am learning how important everything around me truly is and how all things have an effect on each other. This is especially true in our great forests for they are a truly impressive ecosystem and even small changes can have extensive repercussion. I have always loved Alaska’s native landscapes; its trees, flowers, berry plants and shrubs all have a special place in my heart.
   In the garden around my house I am slowly planting Alaskan perennials so that I can tend the beauty of a wild forest or meadow right at my door step. Taking care of perennials has its own set of methods and complications. Perennials naturally have many different considerations than annuals and wild perennials can be especially picky about growing conditions, soil content, and other habitat considerations.
In the past if I had a question about how to grow a particular flower or tree in my yard I would ask a neighbor lady; she had lived in Alaska for years and was full of knowledge on all things green and growing. Her entire yard and garden where in fact a series of perennial beds that were full of Alaskan wildflowers which she had found and propagated herself. Many an afternoon I would find her out in the flower beds pulling weeds and happily caring for each plant. She knew exactly where and what everything was in her beds even before they came up. She has since moved away from the area and I must now seek out advice elsewhere.
   I have recently read an article about creating edible landscapes. I find this entire idea intriguing; not only would one enjoy the beauty of flowering shrubs and plants all summer but when the time was right a harvest of great variety would come. These crops could be eaten fresh or processed and stored for the winter. The plants then serve two purposes: providing beauty along with pollen and nectar for good insects, and providing a food source for their caretaker. This sounds like a wonderfully efficient way to create a garden or landscape. The information that I have found recommends that if you are starting from scratch to begin by planning how you want the landscape roughly to look. Plan where the trees and shrubs will be first and then add in smaller plants. Berry trees were my first though for creating an edible landscape but smaller edibles such as herbs, and flowers should not be discounted. These plants can add color and variety when planted near fruit bearing shrubs. Vegetables that are colorful or interesting can also be interspersed with the herbs and edible flowering plants ( As with any landscaping project make sure to plan where each perennial will go depending on each plants needs and characteristics. A detailed plan will ensure a balanced landscape that will provide food all growing season. I am just an amateur enthusiast and would have to, out of necessity, start small with any endeavor to start turning my yard into an edible landscape. I am very impressed by the article put out by Rosalind Creasy; she is an expert and her creations are just lovely. The designs are way beyond my abilities but do show how diverse landscaping with edible plants can be. The Virginia Berry Farm page is also very detailed and explains clearly how best to go about planning and starting an edible landscape.
   I have many ideas now too many in fact. Winter is a good time to think of new and different things to try next spring in my garden. Now as the days grow colder and the nights longer I will research, plan, and create, at least on paper, some designs for my yard. Instead of planting lilacs I can plant Saskatoons or Haskaps. Instead of putting in another delphinium or poppy border I can put in some herbs for cooking and a border of strawberries. The soil in my yard is not very good so until I can focus on improving it, some of my new shrubs could be planted in large pots or raised beds; the same goes for herbs and lettuces all will grow well in pots. I am excited about redesigning my yard. I have wanted to landscape it for some years now but just could not find a design I liked. My new designs will include some edibles and who knows what else, the possibilities are endless. AB Delta Junction
Virginia Berry Farm. Edible Landscaping. virginiaberryfarm. Available Online: Accessed Oct. 19, 2016
Marion O. in a newsletter called Up Beet Gardener. How to landscape with edible plants. PlanTea, Inc. Available Online: Accessed Oct.19, 2016
Rosalind C. 2009. Edible Landscaping Basics. Rosalind Creasy Edible Landscaping. Available Online.

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