Garden Photo of the Day

A Food Forest

An Ohio gardens combines beauty and practicality

One of the garden's edible harvests. Flowering Chenopodium bonus-henricus (good-king Henry, Zones 3 - 9), with a flower of salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) and leaves of the perennial leek 'Oepri Perizweib.'

Luke Simon shared photos of his neighbor’s garden not long ago, and today he shared some images of his own garden in Northeast Ohio. His plantings are often both ornamental and edible to create a garden that has it all.

True comfrey (Symphytum officinale, Zones 4 – 8) blooming in front of golden alexanders (Zizia aurea, Zones 3 – 8).
The garden is a mix of wild plantings and edible fruits such as this Lonicera caerulea (honeyberry, Zones 2 – 7), creating a “food forest.”
I believe this cultivar of comfrey is ‘Bocking 16.’ and the purple behind is self-seeded Vicia villosa (Hairy vetch, Zones 4 – 8). There is actually a path somewhere in there!
Nigella sativa (nigella or black cumin, annual) flower buds.

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  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/13/2018

    Love the look of that honeyberry.

  2. Maggieat11 02/13/2018

    I have been considering putting in some honeyberries. Have you noted any pros or cons compared to blueberries? Thx!

    1. user-7009037 02/20/2022

      Hi! Apologies for the delay in response. Updating links for all my articles across the web and realized so many comments were piled up here!

      In my experience not particularly pampering honeyberries, the fruits is not as readily harvestable as blueberries (deeper in the bush) and the fruit size is smaller. The bushes are also sticking to about 2 ft for me. I have seen taller, fuller bushes of other varieties though. I have an article on my varieties and cultivation methods here if you like:

  3. User avater
    DawnMT 02/13/2018

    Our nursery carried honeyberry last year...I almost bought one but changed my mind not knowing more about it. What variety do you have and are you happy with it? Your photos are very nice. Thank you for sharing.

    1. user-7009037 02/20/2022

      Just responded to a similar comment above with info and link. So glad you enjoyed!

  4. Sunshine111 02/13/2018

    I loved seeing these Luke!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/13/2018

    Do you have a number of the honeyberry bushes, Luke? I had never heard of them but after coming back from a read about them thanks to you photo sharing, they sound wonderful. Seems like my growing zone (6b 7a) might be marginally too hot for them to thrive which is my loss. I am going to keep an eye open for them at my local nurseries.

    1. user-7009037 02/20/2022

      Not a huge production. More trialing multiple varieties at this point. Although I don’t have experience growing honeyberries in zone 6/7, I have read they will produce so warm as zones 8. Perhaps since this comment you’ve tried them. Apologies for the delay in response. I do have N article I wrote on honeyberries here if you like:

  6. sheila_schultz 02/13/2018

    Thanks for sending in these great shots, Luke. I've done very little with edibles over the years so seeing these beauties is quite the treat. I'm particularly fond of the Nigella, I love that texture! Do you make a lot of teas?

    1. user-7009037 02/20/2022

      I love the nigella, also, and have moved into cut flower production lately, which makes even more uses other than the edible seeds.

      I do make several mint teas, and live tea made from tulsi basil (Ocimum sanctum). As it is a readily self-seeding annual, it is simple to grow.

      Apologies for just now replying to this. Updating links and realized all these comments were here under the article.

  7. cheryl_c 02/13/2018

    Luke, Thanks so much for sharing pictures of your edible forest, and reminding us how beautiful edible plants can be in a garden. I'm considering chard this summer for my front flower bed. Your comfrey reminds me a bit of Virginia bluebells. What new plans do you have for this year?

    1. user-7009037 02/20/2022

      Back in 2018, I was trying a number of new herbs for a homeopathic company I was working with. Virgin’s bower clematis (Clematis virginiana), and tiger lily (Lilian tigrinum var. splendans) we’re among them. Particularly love that variety of lily for its light peachy color of orange. I use it as a cut for power for florists, also. Apologies for not seeing this several years ago. Updating links across the web for my articles and found these today.

  8. User avater
    gringopeligroso 02/13/2018

    Mr. SImon!!
    Thanx for sharing this inspiration!
    Two comments from me, if'n you don't mind; one from very recently and another from a long time ago:
    History first, as it's just an anecdote:
    When I was MUCH younger, I lived and gardened (wait a minute...aren't those the same?????) anyway, in Central Oklahoma outside a very tiny town on a 5 acre homestead which came with the job. We were freshly married, dirt poor, and were haphazardly finding our way in and through life. We were also "Mother Earth Newsing" everything and every project which we tried! (Martha Stewart wasn't on the scene, yet!) We had gardens but in those days they were much more practical and not so ornamental. However, even the bush beans,potatoes and especially the broccoli and cauliflowers had colourful marigolds, sweet alyssum, dianthus, etc as bed partners, among other combinations!
    One morning a pair of older good ole boys came shyly by, and as they slowly and respectfully exited their truck and came forth, one asked "Would it be OK and would you mind if we could see y'all's garden? Up close, that is?" (We lived WAY out from the sidewalks! hmmmm.... still do!) I was surprised, delighted, and a little embarrassed. But, I led the way through the scavenged fence/gate, wishing I'ld spent a little more time pulling weeds. I didn't know company was comin'! They stayed for a while quietly talking, pointing, and occasionally bending down for a closer inspection. and after about a half an eternity, they headed back to their truck. As they were expressing their gratitude for my indulgence, the quieter of the two said: " Ya know? I've NEVER seen a real, live broccoli plant, and I've been eatin' 'em all my life!" The more forward of the pair added: " And, I've never seen fla'ars growin' in a kitchen garden before! That's kinda nice!"
    I could NOT have received better or more gracious salutations as these two gifted me that morni....well, by then it was lunch time! The fact that they were both farmers/ranchers gave their words even more weight!
    Their reactions also urged me further along a path of which I still follow today!
    And, more recently, I attended a grower's conference in T-town (Tulsa) last month, just after the holidays. This year, the sponsors tagged on an optional field trip after the final sessions on Saturday morning. We drove from the surburban Jr. College campus farther South and much closer to the downtown skyscrapers. (I saw parts of that town I didn't know existed!) Just before entering the concrete canyons, our map instructed us to turn West into a beautiful, craftsman-style neighbourhood....where all the houses DON'T look the same. We pulled up to one of those houses, and noticed right away it didn't have the standard lawn.. there were trees, shrubs and mulch all the way to and including the hell strip. (remember: It's only early January!) On this standard city lot, with a grand, olde, but not huge house, was the perma-culture centre of that city. I could not get over how MUCH was packed into, onto, under, and over that lot. Several pecan trees, peaches and plums, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, herbs everywhere, medicinal woodie natives, hackberries, mulberries and monardas, comfrey, bees and chickens, Hugelkultur, wildflowers, and even a children's garden tucked into a corner....and lots of plans for more, yet. The City was so impressed, that not only do school field trips happen there during the year, but they've offered a neighbouring strip of barren freeway embankment and a token amount of resources to install fruit and ornamental trees and shrubs, wildflowers and bulbs...(this is Iris country!!) into the swales they've built to capture the seasonal and too-infrequent precipitation. After 2 years, the survival rate here was MUCH higher than the other freeway plantings around the city which had more input of resources. (Read: $$)
    Across from this easement/embankment young forest and over a near-by pedestrian bridge there's a low income neighbourhood. I'm thinkin' that in the very near future, there will be some kids (of all ages) who will return across that bridge with purple tongues, scratched forearms and the brightest eyes from having just enjoyed the sensation of a plump and sweet blackberry or two (or three!!) directly from the bramble!!
    (Kinda like the farmers who made a similar connection many years ago, in a county far, far away!)
    Your post got me a little excited of the possibilities and even as I type on this chilly afternoon, the garden has been burned off and had it's first tilling of the season. In a couple of weeks, the first babies will go out into the open...spinach, peas, potatoes, kale, parsley and of course, calendulas, violas, snapdragons and sweet peas!
    Good thing this month is short!!!

    1. sheila_schultz 02/14/2018

      Great story about your Tulsa field trip. I'm guessing many gardeners will be born when they see the beauty and possibilities in those gardens.
      Sounds like that winter gardening itch of yours is about to be scratched! I sure would like to see some photos of your labors down the road, Jesse.

      1. User avater
        gringopeligroso 02/16/2018

        Hey, Sheila!
        Wasn't ignoring you... for some reason beyond my comprehension, this "new and Improved" version is not letting me log in from my desktop....which is where I do most of my responses. However, I CAN log in, obviously from my laptop..running a dinosaur OS?? Go figure...
        Anyway, I sent in a batch to accompany my Cabin's Gardens portfolio to show our brand new gardens under construction/development, but I think that second entry got left on the editing room floor and taken out to the curb.
        No big deal, but I didn't have much TO show as I was re-starting with a blank slate using many transplants from the Cabin's successes. Indeed, we're still in the early stages of growth as we re-learn what will work here and what won't.
        I HOPE to have some material for this post perhaps as early as this season..and indeed the greenhouse is filling rapidly this mid February. Between the new colour/eye candy, and the older contained veterans needing upgrading, dividing, I have to don my ballet slippers to move amongst the aisles!
        Thankfully, my Tu-Tu still fits me....kinda!!!
        Sheila, I'm gonna twist about and return your request back-atcha. If I understand you, y'all are quartering next to or upon the grounds of a "Botanical Preserve?" That HAS to be special circumstances, in more ways than one!! Perhaps you can mosey out there with a lense and show us what you're seeing? Are there Boojum Trees that far South? One of my faves from that corner of the World! Just beautifully Weird...kinda like me!! (I reckon I still have some of that Desert Dust in my blood!! They warned me that it gets into everything!!)

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