Edible Landscaping
by Rosalind Creasy

Sierra Club Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1-578-05154-0.
Reviewed by Susan J. Tweit
Posted on 01/03/2011

Nonfiction: Creative Life; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Food/Cooking/Kitchen

I think I wore out the 1982 edition of Rosalind Creasy's Edible Landscaping, which revolutionized my thinking about garden design: Rhubarb as an accent in perennial beds? Tulips poking up through lettuce? Strawberries edging front walks? Why not? No reason, really, except that I had grown up, as most gardeners do, segregating food plants in the working garden and never imagining they had a place in the decorative garden, much less that the decorative garden could be edible.

While the original Edible Landscaping was inspiring; the new version goes all out. It's a gorgeous volume packed with lush photos that'll have your mouth watering and your fingers itching to re-design your entire garden. Whether you have space for a just few pots of edibles or you can rip out your lawn and plant an entire yard full of delicious and beautiful vegetables, fruits and herbs, Creasy's book shows the way.

After telling the story of how she ripped out her sterile front lawn and replaced it with a glorious and ever-changing landscape of edibles, Creasy guides readers through a short course in landscaping, followed by a complete encyclopedia of edible plants, from almonds to yams. Separate chapters detail how to design with herbs, vegetables, and fruits, berries, and nuts. There's even a chapter on designing for small spaces, as well as appendices covering container gardens, planting and maintenance, and strategies for dealing with pests and diseases. The book is chock-full of examples of edible landscapes on both coasts and in the Midwest, plus an abundance of color photos, providing a feast of visual information as well.

My one disappointment: Creasy gardens in coastal California, where pretty much every plant grows exuberantly (hence the state's terrible problem with introduced invasive plants, but that's another story). For those of us who garden in unfriendly climates, whether the summer heat of Texas, the serious extended droughts of the desert Southwest, or the severe cold of northern climates, the book may seem a mite optimistic.

Still, Creasy's writing and passion for landscaping that feeds heart, soul, and belly won't fail to inspire, and inspiration goes a long way to overcome difficult gardening conditions. Gardeners are after all, by nature believers in the great miracle of life, as Creasy points out:

"With all my heart, I believe that growing edibles is a connection to our vital being, hands in soil, planting seeds, marveling at how they grow, and glorying in that first juicy, sun-warmed fruit of the season. Although each step in the process is a ritual in itself, it is also part of the larger ritual of life. As Gandhi said, 'To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.'"

This new edition of Edible Landscaping is a must-read, a delicious call to re-envision our outdoor domestic spaces as both beautiful and bountiful.

Rosalind Creasy is a landscape designer, garden writer and photographer, and leading authority on edible landscaping. She is the author of eighteen books, including two best-selling titles for Sierra Club Books: the original edition of Edible Landscaping (1982) and Cooking from the Garden (1988), both of which were Garden Writers Association award winners. Creasy lives in Los Altos, California. Visit her website.

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