Plants & Gardens Blog

A Blended Garden

A blended garden is one that weaves edible and ornamental plants in the same garden bed or container. There isn’t a strict line as to where the flower garden stops and the vegetable garden starts. Fruit-bearing trees and shrubs provide structure, color, and privacy while mingled with vegetables, herbs, and perennials. In addition to growing food, a blended garden contains flowers that are suitable for cutting. Typically, colorful annual flowers dominate these gardens because they are such enthusiastic bloomers.

In the case of this design, all plants are best grown in average, medium-moist, well-drained soil in full sun unless otherwise noted.

A Blended Garden (Diagram)

Fruit Trees, Shrubs, and Vines

  1. Actinidia ‘Red Beauty’ (Kiwi)

    Female vine with heart-shaped pink, white, and green variegated foliage. Bears tiny greenish-white flowers in early summer and smooth-skinned, sweet-flavored fruits in late summer to early fall. 10 to 15 feet tall. Zones 3 to 7.
  2. Prunus persica ‘Reliance’ (Peach)

    Self-pollinating dwarf fruit tree with soft pink blossoms in March to April, followed by medium to large freestone peaches ripening in early to mid-August. 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 5 to 8.
  3. Vaccinium ‘Blueray’ (Highbush blueberry)

    Upright shrub with dainty bell-shaped, white flowers in May, followed by medium-blue blueberries. Best grown in acidic soil (pH 4.8 to 5.2). 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 5 to 8.

Fruiting Perennials

  1. Fragaria ‘Ozark Beauty’ (Strawberry)

    Everbearing strawberry that produces crops early in the season (typically June) and in the fall. Five-petaled white flowers with yellow centers in spring. 6 to 9 inches tall. Zones 4 to 8.
  2. Rubus ‘Heritage’ (Raspberry)

    Self-fruitful everbearing red raspberry cultivar that requires no staking or support. Large, bright red fruit July to September. Prefers slightly acidic soil. 4 to 5 feet tall. Zones 4 to 8.

Perennial Flowers

  1. Echinacea ‘Orange Meadowbrite’ (Coneflower)

    Features fragrant, daisylike coneflowers with orange to coppery-orange rays and large, pincushiony dark brown central cones from June to August. 2 to 3 feet tall. Zones 3 to 8.
  2. Monarda ‘Blue Stocking’ (Bee balm)

    Cultivar noted for its unusual tubular, two-lipped violet-blue flowers borne from July through August atop stiff, square stems with dark green leaves. 2 to 3 feet tall. Zones 4 to 9.


  1. Ocimum basilicum ‘Red Rubin’ (Purple basil)

    The most consistently deep purple leaves of all the basils, with minimum green. A fine traditional flavor and aroma along with beautiful lavender flowers. 12 to 15 inches tall.
  2. Origanum rotundifolium ‘Kent Beauty’ (Oregano)

    A bushy, trailing hybrid ornamental oregano with wiry stems densely covered with small oval leaves. Drooping, pink-bracted flowers bloom in whorls from summer to fall. 6 to 9 inches tall. Zones 5 to 11.
  3. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp’ (Rosemary)

    Cultivar noted for its excellent winter hardiness. Features aromatic gray-green foliage and dark blue flowers. 3 to 6 feet tall. Zones 7 to 10.


  1. Beta vulgaris var. cicla ‘Bright Lights’ (Swiss chard)

    Rainbow-colored stalks in pink, crimson, orange, yellow, gold, purple, and white with delicious green tops. Best harvested young for salad or used as summer spinach. 1 to 15 feet tall.
  2. Brassica oleracea ‘Toscano’ (Tuscan kale)

    Has long, narrow, heavily blistered leaves of deep dark green with a rich flavor. Use young leaves in salads; mature leaves are good for braising and in soups. 1 to 2 feet tall.
  3. Lyscopersicon esculentum ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ (Tomato)

    One of the best cherry tomatoes. 4 to 8 feet tall.

Annual Flowers

  1. Solenostemon scutellarioides (Coleus)

    Tender perennial with showy multicolored leaves. Blue to white nettlelike flowers bloom in summer but are usually pinched off. ? to 3 feet tall and wide.
  2. Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ (Anise-scented sage)

    Cultivar featuring deep cobalt-blue-and-black flower spikes 15 inches long over a long midsummer to fall bloom. 2 to 5 feet tall and wide.

Joan McDonald runs a private garden design business, Gardens by Joan, and is a graduate of the BBG Certificate in Horticulture program.

Image, top of page: Antonio M. Rosario