Top 5: Edibles to add colour to the Garden

My garden is looking a bit flat at the moment, this is partially because its winter and partially because I haven’t really taken as much care as I should have with what I planted where.  This weeks top 5 is really what I should have done or rather what I should have planted more of.  The edibles which could happily sit within any garden, productive or decorative.  These are the ones that although we grow them for their taste they also look damn good as well.

1. Fruit Trees- I have grouped fruit together because lets face it fruit trees are generally big and most suburban gardens don’t have room for more than a couple.  So whether it be a tamarillo with its tropical looking leaves and lovely red fruit, an orange with those lovely balls of brightness or a gnarly old apple tree you can pretty much guarantee its going to add interest to the garden.


2. Rainbow Chard – I love the look of rainbow chard, those vivid stems against the beautifully deep green leaves.  You could put rainbow chard happily in a border and it wouldn’t look out of place.  Equally a mass planting of different colours looks fabulous in a raised bed.


 3. Eggplants – I think eggplants are really pretty plants.  Yes they can start to look a bit ragged by the end of the season but they don’t get nearly as bad as tomatoes and most of the time the plants look good.  I also think their fruits are beautiful, especially the purple varieties – smooth and really tactile.

4. Chillies – What would a top 5 post be without a reference to chillies?  Even the nurseries near me agree – chillies look great.  There seem to be almost as many ornamental chillies for sale as there are culinary ones.   I can see why too – they look fabulous: the fruits are fun shapes, often vivid colours and the foliage is pleasant as well.



5. Red Cabbage – Is it just me or does red cabbage look quite sophisticated?  I love the colours of its leaves, their shape, and its size.  I see no reason why it wouldn’t look absolutely fabulous in a mixed planted scheme.


or maybe you could grow Cavolo Nero – I just love both its texture and colour.  But that’s 6 and that would be cheating….

So which edibles would you grow even if you didn’t want to eat them?  What fabulous additions should I be adding to my garden.

Finished here? Then head over The New Goodlife for her Top 5 – Lessons as a Mother.

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27 Responses to Top 5: Edibles to add colour to the Garden

  1. Mark Willis says:

    Kale is another contender – especially the Red Russian one, if you don’t pick it but let it grow big. “Sophisticated” Red Cabbage, eh? I bet it is seldom given that accolade, but actually I agree with you – as long as you ignore the outer leaves which often get very tatty. Lettuces are also a good space filler and come in loads of different colours these days. I especially like the red and speckled ones.

    • Liz says:

      I grow a speckled lettuce called freckles that I think is really pretty – its alternative name is Trout Back which is less attractive so I decided against it – he he he. Actually I somehow forgot lettuces when I wrote he post despite eating quite a few leaves for my lunch today, thanks for the suggestion.

  2. I agree with Mark, lettuce, especially the red ones or those with interesting leaves look gorgeous. Peas, of all types, appeal to me too, I like the soft greeness of the leaves and the flowers are really pretty. And how about some edible flowers, nasturtiums in particular. Other wise I like all the ones you have nominated and I think you could probably develop your own red cabbage variety called ‘Sophistication’, market it for it’s dual purpose of aesthetics and edibility. You could make a fortune!

    • Liz says:

      Oh I do like that idea although I suspect fortune is possibly overstating the market for pretty cabbages but maybe I’m underestimating it….

  3. Daphne says:

    Except for the fruit, I don’t grow any of those. I’m growing a white chard right now. And I’ve tried red cabbage, but it wouldn’t head up for me. So for now I’m sticking to the early easy cabbages.

  4. Nina says:

    Very pretty and colourful, all of them!

    I had a day off yesterday and was in Woolies where they were selling off ‘all-you-can-shove-in-a-bag’ fruit and veggies for $2.00 a bag. I picked up most of what I needed for a double batch of veggie stock and then I saw a few tamarillos and threw one of those in the bag as well, just to give them a try after all your posts! Hmmm. They must be an acquired taste. I wasn’t a big fan on my first tasting. Mind you, it was probably past its best so maybe a nice freshly picked one would have been better.

    Did you like them immediately, or did they grow on you?

    • Liz says:

      I remember first trying them when I was a little kid and we went on a long camping trip up to Queensland and yes I remember loving them the first time. By the same token they probably aren’t for everyone – my partner can’t stand them but then he doesn’t like raw tomato either. At least not liking them means its one less thing you have to worry about growing.

  5. And beans have lovely flower sin a range of colours.

  6. Chelsea says:

    Oh, Yes! Totally agree with you about red cabbage (sighs enviously over eggplants). Also ‘Siberian’ kale and ‘Redbor’ kale are excellent if you’re facing a lush but decidedly green oaisis. If you’re thinking of habing some of that lovely continual colour in winter also try more of the swiss chard and red brussel sprouts. Lovely.

    • Liz says:

      Red brussel sprouts – now I have to look out for them they sound great. I have some Kale in at the moment, both the Tuscan kale and another variety with green leaves with red veins which is also really pretty.

  7. bumblelush says:

    I’ve never grown chard but I tried rainbow chard for the first time last year. I liked it! I’m looking forward to it coming in season this winter.

    • Liz says:

      In many ways it is the most valuable thing I grow – easy to base meals around, easy to grow and really productive – what more could you want?

  8. We’ve been experimenting with many colors of radishes — green meat, beauty heart, long scarlet are just a few — but will have to wait for fall planting on many of them. We haven’t had much luck growing cabbages, but they rate among one of my favorites to admire in other’s gardens!

    • Liz says:

      Radishes can be lovely colours can’t they. I just harvested my first watermelon radish and that has a beautiful interior.

  9. I love, love, love rainbow chard. Not only it looks good in gardens (and on your plate, for that matter) but it’s also incredibly good for you!
    Btw your garden looks amazing, with all those colors.

  10. Louise says:

    What a lovely posting for us in the southern hemisphere who need a little colour right now! Thank you.

    Of course my favourite of your photos in this post is the eggplant one, what a lovely picture for an eggplant obsessive like me.

    I am also liking Mark’s Veg Plot’s purple peas at the moment, and I love the colour of red runner been flowers ( but don’t like the beans much). I’d grow rhubarb just to look at it ( if I had the space).

  11. I agree with Louise, my scarlet runner bean flowers were gorgeous this year… pity they didn’t morph into actual beans… but still worth growing! And my other favourites are the textures of fennel and carrot, so soft and fuzzy, and they seem to sort of “complete” the look of a vegie patch!

    • Liz says:

      Good suggestions. My scarlet runners didn’t become beans either, I thought it was because I planted them late but perhaps they just don’t like Victoria?

  12. Michelle says:

    I fell in love with Flamingo chard this year, it has brilliant pink stems and it’s delicious too. And Crimson Flowering favas, I grow them for the flowers mostly, the beans are good but I prefer to grow mostly extra early white or purple seeded favas to eat because they crop earlier. Manzano chile peppers have also earned a spot in my garden because of their unusual purple blossoms and beautiful peppers, although they are a bit too spicy for me. And how about nasturtiums, love those beautiful blossoms even if I don’t eat them very often. Ah, and red bulbing fennel, it doesn’t bulb up as well as green fennel, but it is beautiful at all stages of growth and beneficial bugs love flowers.

    • Liz says:

      Great suggestions, I’m going to look out for Manzano chillies – they sound very interesting. Nasturtiums – good call, they are great aren’t they. Acutally there are probably quite a few edible flowers that I could have added.

  13. L says:

    What makes those chillies ornamental? Do they taste bad?

    • Liz says:

      The section of the nursery, superstore, etc that I found them in I guess. I have to say I’ve often wondered about the taste. Have you seen those plants with the multi-coloured chillies on them? They sell them in the UK particularly, but here quite a lot as well as an ornamental plant rather than for edible chillies but I never bought one and tasted them.

      • L says:

        I think I’ve seen the multi-coloured ones in florists. I ask because my workmates gave me a couple of plants as a leaving gift and I wondered if they were suitable for cooking. My boss tried one and he said it was good – I was too much of a wuss to try it straight.

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