A true revolution is currently taking place in North American gardens! While most landscapings have traditionally been considered as ornamental, a new way to design gardens has emerged: edible landscaping. Photos 1 and 2: An edible landscaping should be as good as it is beautiful! (photos: John Fluitt) The principle of edible landscaping is very simple as it consists in creating gardens in which edible plants are cultivated, with the ultimate objective of creating a functional, ecological and, more importantly, productive living environment. Whether it is vegetables, fruits, nuts, edible flowers or medicinal plants, they all have their place in an edible landscaping. It is therefore a great way to get organic foods that are fresh, tasty and cheap! Vegetable plants are generally considered as rather unesthetic, and many believe it is preferable to grow them in the back of the yard, away from the house. Well, one of the objectives of edible landscaping is to create gardens that are not only useful, but esthetic as well. So, it is important to choose plants that do not only produce food, but that are also beautiful. Unesthetic vegetable plants can be associated with plants whose flowering is abundant and edible. Photo 3: The creation of an edible landscaping requires proper planning. Some companies specialized in this type of landscaping can help you create your dream edible landscaping. (Illustration: Guillaume Pelland, Paysage Gourmand) Based on the principles of permaculture, edible landscaping is an approach which builds on the use of perennials or sturdy, vigorous shrubs that will produce fruits and vegetables in abundance, year after year, while requiring minimal care. As interventions are reduced to a minimum, this allows for the creation of useful and functional gardens that respect the environment and that are in harmony with natural ecosystems. Also, this approach promotes the presence of all kinds of birds (including hummingbirds), pollinating insects and butterflies. Therefore, you need not worry about not harvesting all of the production as several animals, including birds, will help you eat the leftovers! Photo 4: At the Martin Luther King Jr School, in Berkeley, California, children have access to a schoolyard planted with edible plants, where they learn to practice horticulture and to cook. (photo: The Ethicurean) The most sought-after perennial vegetable plants for the creation of an edible landscaping include the Egyptian onion (Allium cepa var. proliferum), a perennial plant which is an advantageous substitute to common onions, the skirret (Sium sisarum), whose sweet, white, stretched out root resembles the parsnip’s, the sea kale (Crambe maritima), whose fleshy leaves have a very concentrated taste of kale, and the topinambour (Helianthus tuberosum), whose artichoke-tasting root wonderfully replaces potatoes. However, this plant being particularly aggressive, it is recommended to plant it in a large pot buried in the soil or to surround it with a thick metal strip to prevent it from taking over all of the available space.