I made a quick visit yesterday to Public Works and was surprised at the number of edible plants interspersed in the landscaping. As a gardener, I appreciate the co-mingling and overlap of annuals, perennials, and edibles. The King of Edible Landscaping, Mario Rmah, is employed with the Town's Public Works Department.
The landscape at their facility got me thinking about other plants in the landscape, both conventional and uncommon. I sent myself on a quest to find other edible landscapes in Matthews. Wander around and see what you can find, and if it’s ok with the property owner, take a little nibble.
Hosta: There’s a reason the deer love to eat your tender hostas…they’re delicious. More commonly eaten in mountainous regions of Japan, Urui is taking off here in the states as well. Harvest shoots as they pop up in the spring, and cook as you would asparagus. Need some inspiration? How about a recipe that involves butter.
Lemongrass: If you like clumping fountain grasses but don’t want to end up with the disaster that can be pampas, why not plant lemongrass? It’s an annual here, but smells great and won’t create a giant, immovable root system. Bonus? You’ll have the makings of a delicious curry at your fingertips. This clump, amidst the rudbeckia, is at Public Works, which, I’m learning, is the place to visit if you’re a fan of edible landscaping.
Malabar Spinach: Not actually a spinach, there’s a large patch between the curb and sidewalk at the Matthews Free Medical Clinic. Malabar spinach is a heat tolerant annual green that readily self-seeds and creates a lush, dense ground covering with brilliant red tendrils. It can be eaten raw or cooked, use it just as you would regular spinach.
Melons: The garden that sparked my interest in finding edible landscapes is right out front of Public Works. The beautifully curated, layered landscape, was created by Mario. Look closely. Do you see the watermelon peeking out? That large swath of green is actually several watermelon vines and at least two different varieties. There are also some edible herbs sprinkled throughout the ‘Works Department grounds.
Prickly Pears: Front and center of the parking lot of Pita Kebab is an intimidating island of prickly pear. My first taste (and subsequent fascination) with prickly pears began with Azteca’s Macho Burrito. After being despined, both the paddles and the fruit are edible. From a cold slaw to grilled nopales, prickly pears add a fierce looking element to your edible landscape.