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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Great Green Spaces: Think Outside the Plot for an Appealing, Productive Garden

Feb 29, 2012 10:35PM ● By Stephanie and Ian Orlikoff

Many individuals and newbie gardeners are surprised to learn that colorful vegetables and herbs can be ornamental, and look far better occupying a living space than stacked in the produce aisle. Paying homage to the deep purple color of a cabbage or the patterned veins of Swiss chard leaves and other textured plants gives indoor and outdoor living spaces a completely different appeal, as well as a forever-changing landscape. Try these ideas for creating gardens that are edible and attractive.

Window Gardens

Herbs on a kitchen windowsill are beautiful and functional. Grow them in small planters, teacups and old glassware, but be careful not to overwater if the containers lack drainage holes.

Container Gardens

Stack or group container gardens by plant colors or types of herbs and vegetables. Use them as space dividers to separate large areas such as a common living and dining room or to define an outdoor dining area by the pool.

Green Walls

Fill green wall planters with herbs or small blooming or hanging plants to turn an unsightly space into a work of art. Freestanding or installed on a building’s structure, with or without an irrigation system, they can be used as privacy screens or on fences between properties.

Vertical Gardens

Use a trellis inside containers for climbing vegetables; shade a sunlit wall with a fruit tree espalier (trellis); or utilize a climbing vine, such as muscadine grapes, for a pergola or arbor. Keep in mind that a single square foot space can hold up to 24 plants with a stackable pot system or grow columns, which are ideal for small growing spaces inside lanais, between homes and in porch rooms.

Edible Lawns

Many ground covers and shrubs such as rosemary and lemongrass are edible and aromatic. Consider thyme and other small-leaf herbs as edgings for walkways. Various colors of lettuces and cabbages can be used as low-tiered plantings. Green vegetables such as broccoli rabe and bok choy have delicate, yellow blossoms that encourage butterflies when allowed to seed.

Stephanie and Ian Orlikoff are the owners of Eco Logic Land Care & Signature Tree Care. Ian is an AOLCP accredited land care professional and ISA Certified Arborist, and both Orlikoffs are Florida certified horticulture professionals. Stephanie is also a Collier County Master Gardener. For more information, call 239-348-1302 or visit

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