The Hippo


Jul 4, 2020








Liz Barbour’s edible garden. Courtesy photo.

Liz Barbour’s Open Garden Tour

When: Sunday, June 26, noon to 4 p.m. 
Where: The Creative Feast, 5 Broad St., Hollis; parking is available on the Town Common or behind the library located on the Town Common
Cost: Free 

Veggie beautiful
Tour invites visitors to explore an edible garden

By Angie Sykeny

 If you’re looking to create a visually appealing garden, cabbages and kale may not be the first plants that come to mind, but for chef and cooking instructor Liz Barbour of The Creative Feast, the vegetables in her flower beds only add to the charm.  

That’s because she practices edible gardening, a technique that involves arranging fruit and vegetable plants among ornamental plants and flowers to create a hybrid super-garden that’s both practical and beautiful. 
“It’s for people who really would like to begin planting vegetables, but don’t want to create a huge vegetable garden,” she said. “So, if you have perennial beds, just look at a vegetable plant and see how beautiful it is and how you can work that into what you already have established.” 
On Sunday, June 26, Barbour will host an Open Garden Tour at her home in Hollis, where visitors can walk freely through her ⅓-acre edible garden to explore the layout and how the concept is put into practice. The tour is self-guided, but all the plants will be labeled and Barbour will be around to answer questions. People are welcome to bring a notebook or camera so they can collect some ideas for their own edible gardens. 
Barbour’s garden will have numerous kinds of vegetables, climbing and in rows, including lettuces, cabbages, cucumbers and more, as well as a variety of herbs and edible flowers. There will also be some fruit trees and bushes growing apples, cherries, blackberries, boysenberries, elderberries, blueberries and gooseberries, scattered throughout the garden.  
“Instead of foundation plantings that don’t produce any fruit, I use blueberry bushes,” she said. “The color of the leaves is just as beautiful as any foundation planting I can buy at Home Depot, except now I have one that also provides fruit and is sustainable and helps me and my family. It’s a great combination.”
While edible gardening has been popular on the West Coast for years, Barbour said, she hasn’t seen much of it in New Hampshire yet. Her inspiration to give it a try came from a desire to combine her interest in gardening with her culinary background, and from a trend she was noticing at local farm stands. 
“The ones that are selling annuals and perennials, they do a beautiful job with those [flowers] out front, and sometimes I’ll see them putting vegetable plants out there as a way of displaying them, and it makes this really beautiful garden,” she said.
There are multiple factors to consider when designing an edible garden. To start, make sure you choose edible plants that are suited for your level of gardening experience and for the environmental conditions of your garden area. Once you’ve chosen your plants, explore what colors and styles are available and start thinking about how to place them so that they receive the proper amount of sunlight and are aesthetically fitting with the surrounding plants. 
“Kale, for example — something everyone wants to have — has so many varieties,” Barbour said. “You could do a dark green, medium green, purple, ruffled edge, plain edge. And they’re easy to grow; they need sun, so if you have a space in your perennial bed that gets full sun, why not put kale some in?” 
In addition to the Open Garden Tour, Barbour’s edible garden will be featured in the Symphony New Hampshire Nashua Garden Tour on Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10. She also consistently speaks at local libraries about edible gardening and other culinary topics; see The Creative Feast website for a calendar of her upcoming events. 

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