HLM Architects, Landscape Architecture

Conrad Clayden, Chartered Landscape Architect discusses edible landscapes and how integrating ornamental plants, vegetables, fruits, and herbs we can embody the principles of permaculture, maximise productivity, biodiversity, and community engagement.

By integrating an Edimental design into both new and existing developments there are huge advantages.

Currently the concept of Edimentals (plants that are both edible and ornamental) is in the spotlight as it gained notable recognition at the 2023 Chelsea Flower Show through Harry Holding’s garden design, aimed at reconnecting children with the roots of their food.

But how can this approach help?

Exploring the Edimental approach to planting, I’ve discovered it to be an ideal fit for our projects at HLM, where our focus often lies in creating low-maintenance landscapes. Unlike traditional food growing, which demands extensive time and labor, the Edimental approach offers a more informal and manageable alternative.

The Edimental concept generally revolves around planting perennial plants rather than annuals that are traditionally used for food growing. As a result of their deeper root systems, perennial plants are also more likely to be drought tolerant, which is great for the types of projects we work on at HLM where we cannot guarantee regular watering.

Why Edimentals over ordinary perennial plants?

By integrating an Edimental design into both new and existing developments there are huge advantages. Edible landscapes serve as invaluable educational tools, particularly for children, providing sensory experiences and fostering engagement with the food-growing process.

At HLM we have successfully incorporated edible plants into various educational projects, such as Trent View College in Scunthorpe which features an apple orchard and sensory planting beds with perennial herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Beyond their practical benefits, cultivating edible plants fosters a profound connection with nature, encouraging people of all ages to immerse themselves in their surroundings. For instance, in one of our residential masterplan projects in Cyprus, we specified lemon and lime trees to allow residents access to citrus fruit while also enriching the landscape’s beauty and biodiversity.

Looking to the future of Edible landscapes

The Edimental approach to planting isn’t going to replace traditional farming or dedicated vegetable patches. However, creating beautiful spaces that serve multiple purposes caters to a different audience with less space, less time, or different preferences. Integrating edible plants into planting beds alongside other plants, such as herbaceous perennials, challenges the notion of segregating plants based on their function.

The concept extends beyond aesthetics; it also promotes sustainability and biodiversity. As edible landscapes contribute to ecosystem health by attracting pollinators and wildlife, fostering a balanced and thriving environment. This approach to design not only enhances the visual appeal of our surroundings but also serves as a platform for education.

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