It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane... No, It’s Leaf Lettuce!!
As an avid veggie gardener, I’m always looking to grow more food in less space, but I don’t want to sacrifice beauty for productivity. To increase my harvest, I tuck peppers among my peonies, endive in front of the Echinacea and lettuce with the lilies.
When I choose edibles to grow alongside my decorative plants, I rely on my collection of veggie superheroes. To be a superhero, my top picks need to meet certain criteria:
1) They must be tasty - I do want to eat them after all!
2) They must have a showy leaf shape or texture (think frilled, curly, serrated)
3) They must grow faster than a speeding bullet!
4) They must be colorful (don’t all superheroes have snazzy costumes?)
For some reason, color is often one of the last considerations when choosing edibles, but there is a whole range of veggies and herbs with crazy-beautiful foliage, fruits and flowers. Some of my top edible superheroes include ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard, purple cabbage, curly parsley, ‘Sungold’ tomatoes, dinosaur kale, boxwood basil, tri-color sage and all the gorgeous leaf lettuces.
Here are 4 of my favorite edible-ornamental combinations for eye-catching color:
1) Tuck some deep burgundy leaf lettuce, like the super frilly ‘Lolla Rossa’ in a big pot along with Snow Princess® Lobularia and Superbells® Tequila Sunrise Calibrachoa. The color combination will knock your socks off (and supply fresh greens for sandwiches and wraps!)
2) On the other end of the color spectrum, is lime green leaf lettuce like ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ or an heirloom endive like ‘Bianca Riccia’. The glowing, almost fluorescent foliage tastes great, but truly dazzles when paired with foxy Flirtation® Orange Diascia and Superbells® Plum Calibrachoa.
3) The bright orange, cherry-sized fruits of ‘Sungold’ tomatoes are among the sweetest in the universe! I like to under-plant my potted tomatoes (and peppers) with vigorous ‘spillers’ like Supertunia® White Russian Petunia, Superbena® Royale Peachy Keen Verbena or Superbells® Grape Punch Calibrachoa.
4) Make ‘Bright Lights’ or ‘Red Rhubarb’ Swiss Chard the thriller of your potted gardens or flower borders. Combine the dramatic foliage of ‘Red Rhubarb’ with a bushy cascading annual in a complementary hue like Superbena® Royale Red Verbena.
© 2012 Proven Winners, LLC.