There's no question that my garden is not fashionable - and to tell the truth, I don't want it to be if the gardens created in garden makeovers on television are an example of what we should aspire to. I certainly want areas where we can sit with friends on a summer evening or with an early morning cup of coffee and modern gardens excel in this. Where they fail is in creating a useful garden as well. My ideal garden is an old-fashioned cottage garden - one where most of the plants as well as being decorative, have a purpose.
Excluding the largely functional vegetable patch in which, because I can't restrain myself, you'll find still find some flowers - edible ones like nasturtiums, calendulas and violas - much of the rest of the garden is also edible. Apart from the bulbs presently hidden under ground, in among the agapanthus, gerberas, bearded irises, cactus, orchids, pelargoniums and petunias there is an assortment of the more common food plants. From where I'm sitting I can see sweet potatoes, rhubarb, grapes, strawberries, lettuces, perpetual spinach and lots of herbs - basil, tarragon, marjoram, oregano, rigani, several different thymes and parsleys, assorted mints and rosemary, sage, chives and ginger.
There are some other plants too, usually only grown for decoration, various parts of which are either edible or have other uses and I grow a number of them as well. Here's a sample:
Roses: blossoms - edible, albeit of an odd texture, in sandwiches but yummy as sugared petals or rosebuds. Rose hips are a good source of Vitamin C when made into jellies or syrups while perfumed red blossoms make a wonderful conserve. Also used in making rose water and in pot pourri
Violets: blossoms are delicious sugared and the leaves have medicinal uses.
Nasturtiums: leaves and flowers add a peppery sharpness to salads and the flowers are delicious (if not very healthy) battered and deep fried.
Dianthus: sometimes called clove pinks and used for pot pourri or flavouring.
Society garlic: flowers can be used in salads.
Lavender: used in cooking, as a moth repellent and in the perfume, lavender water. It's also used medicinally.
Lemon verbena: used in teas and as a flavouring.
Water lily: I haven't tried it but I'm told the root is edible.
Lilly pilly: fruits are edible.
Elderberry: flowers are edible (as fritters in particular) and also used in making elderflower champagne. The berries are used to make wine.
Rose and lemon scented geraniums: used in pot pourri and to flavour cakes.
And that's only what is in the garden just now. There are other annuals that come and go in season.
My garden is different but it is still pretty and it certainly smells lovely. Anyone can do the same. Why don't you try?