• 2014: Year of the Cucumber
    The cucumber is one of the top five most popular garden vegetables. Cucumbers are very adaptable. They have been grown in space and a mile underground in a nickel mine. Very easy to grow from seed, cucumbers deserve praise and a place in the modern garden.
  • 2013: Year of the Watermelon
    Not only are watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) delicious, they are one of the largest edible fruits grown in the U.S. It’s also one of the most useful fruits as every part is edible: the flesh can be eaten as is, the rind can be pickled and the seed can be roasted or ground into other ingredients.
  • 2012: Year of the Heuchera
    Heucheras (commonly called Coral Bells) are all-American. Literally. Different species hail from the islands off the California coast to the highest mountains in the Rockies to the Gulf of Mexico. With this diverse range of habitat, these plants are able to find a niche in everyone's garden. Breeders in America and Europe have taken a well-aimed swipe of a paintbrush between these species, and have assembled a plethora of plants with amazing flower and foliage forms that didn’t exist a scant ten years ago. Not only are these plants aesthetically pleasing, but they have become stronger, fuller, and more disease resistant. With few pests, great adaptability to containers and a seemingly unending number of forms, Heuchera should be in everyone's garden!
  • 2011: Year of the Zinnia
    For decades, zinnias have been the flowering annual of choice for spreading glorious colors throughout the garden as well as for cutting to bring indoors. But it wasn't always so. When the Spanish first saw zinnia species in Mexico, they thought the flower was so unattractive they named it mal de ojos, or "sickness of the eye!" Years of breeding have brought striking new colors, shapes, sizes, and growing habits to the humble zinnia. No present day gardener would ever describe this versatile bloomer as anything less than eye catching.
  • 2010: Year of the Marigolds
    Marigolds, native to the New World and sacred flower of the Aztecs, journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean twice to travel 3,000 miles north of their center of origin. This lengthy serpentine journey is a testimony to the rugged durability of marigolds.
  • 2009: Year of the Greens
    Their names are sometimes unfamiliar and their tastes exotic. Leafy greens are popular everywhere from gourmet restaurants, farmers' markets and supermarket produce sections to backyard gardens.
  • 2008: Year of the Eggplant
    The eggplant has been celebrated as an aphrodisiac and feared as the cause of insanity. Today it is appreciated for both its inspiring beauty and delightful flavor.
  • 2007: Year of the Cabbage and Kale
    Cabbage and kale are among the hardiest and most nutritious vegetables a home gardener can grow with ease. Both are handsome in the garden, with colors ranging from pale green through dark battleship blue, to deep reddish purple.
  • 2006: Year of the Celosia
    Celosias are one of the most eye-catching annuals to grow in the garden.
  • 2005: Year of the Melon
    According to Webster's Dictionary, melons are "the large round fruit of various plants of the gourd family, with sweet pulpy flesh and many seeds (honeydew, cantaloupe, muskmelon)."
  • 2004: Year of the Dianthus
    For centuries, Dianthus has been one of the most sought after plants for the garden.
  • 2003: Year of the Bean
    Young snap beans to eat fresh from the garden. Colorful green, purple and yellow beans. Bush beans that grow on compact stems and pole beans that clamber up tepees and trellises.
  • 2002: Year of the Vinca
    Clear flower colors and glossy green leaves make Vinca indispensable for season-long interest in the garden and in containers. Add practically no maintenance to these drought tolerant plants and you have a winning combination.
  • 2001: Year of the Basil
    Can you imagine a garden without basil? Impossible!
  • 2000: Year of the Sweet Corn
    Sweet Corn is an indisputable native of the Americas and has been consumed for 7,000 years.
  • 1999: Year of the Asian Vegetable
    The National Garden Bureau celebrates the Asian culture and the contributions to North American gardens and ethnic cuisine.
  • 1998: Year of the Geranium
    Should we call them geraniums or pelargoniums? By any name, they are definitely as sweet.
  • 1997: Year of the Petunia
    Whether edging a flower bed, covering a bare area like a ground cover, spilling out of a container or trailing from a hanging basket--petunias help keep the gardening season at its most colorful from late spring to fall.
 
2014: Year of the Cucumber

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2013: Year of the Watermelon

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2012: Year of the Heuchera

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2011: Year of the Zinnia

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2010: Year of the Marigolds

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2009: Year of the Greens

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2008: Year of the Eggplant

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2007: Year of the Cabbage and Kale

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2006: Year of the Celosia

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2005: Year of the Melon

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2004: Year of the Dianthus

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2003: Year of the Bean

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2002: Year of the Vinca

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2001: Year of the Basil

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2000: Year of the Sweet Corn

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1999: Year of the Asian Vegetable

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1998: Year of the Geranium

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1997: Year of the Petunia

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Edibles in the Ornamental Garden

National Garden Bureau's members are often on the cutting edge of garden trends and one we've seen a lot over the past year or so is planting edibles in what was traditionally considered an ornamental garden. In fact, there are famous stories of well-meaning gardeners converting their entire front lawns into an edible garden. If you're not ready to take that bold move, then at a minimum you can start interplanting some edible plants with your other decorative garden features, either in containers or in-ground, like parsley in a perennial bed, as seen above. We like this article from NGB member Burpee on the subject of growing the two types of plants in harmony. Bonnie Plants hones in on combining ornamentals and edibles in containers in this article.

Definitions:
Ornamental - any flowering or non-flowering plant used for decorative purposes.
Edible - any fruit, vegetable or other plant that can be consumed by humans. (As we know too well, many of our favorite garden plants are edible by numerous critters.)
Companion planting - the close planting of different plants that enhance each other's growth or protect each other from pests.

Need more reasons to plant vegetables and other edibles in your flower or ornamental garden?

  1. If your garden is small, then you won't have to sacrifice space dedicated to one crop for the other.
  2. Many of today's vegetables have beautiful colors and are considered ornamentals as well as edibles.
  3. The popularity of mixed container gardens lends itself perfectly to a mix of edible and ornamental plants.
  4. In some cases, companion planting may be beneficial to the health and vitality of both plants.

To get the ideas flowing, our members have some new varieties that would work very well together--see possible combos below. For even more ideas, take a look at the NGB Pinterest Board on Edible Landscaping.

 

  • Collard 'Tiger' F1

    'Tiger' F1 is an exciting new high yielding, early, Georgia type hybrid with wavy, lightly savoyed blue-green leaves that regrow quickly after cutting. 'Tiger' is suitable for bunching or for harvesting individual leaves. It has an upright plant habit with a high ratio of blade to stalk, meaning more usable leaf per plant. Plants are full and very productive.

  • Watermelon 'Harvest Moon' F1 AAS 2013 Winner

    The first  hybrid, triploid seedless watermelon to be an AAS Winner. It features healthy, shorter vines that produce 18-20 pound elongated round shaped fruits with very sweet crisp pinkish-red flesh.  It has a dark green rind with yellow dots, like that of 'Moon & Stars' but it is seedless, earlier to ripen, higher yielding and better tasting.

  • Streptocarpus 'Cape Cool'

    'Cape Cool' is available in 4 colors - White shades, Blue shades, Pink shades and Burgundy Shades. It thrives in a warm, shaded environment and can be used both inside and outside. Being seed raised it is less susceptible to disease issues found in cuttings raised varieties and it has a much more compact habit without the large strappy leaves found on some of the older varieties. It is perfect for shady spots in ground beds or containers, but can tolerate some morning or late afternoon sun. 

  • Squash 'Hopi Orange'

    Attractive autumn squash with dark orange fruit, weighing 10-15 lbs., tasty deep yellow-orange fibrous flesh, good for baking and roasting, good keeper, resists squash bugs. 

  • Sunflower 'Solar Flare'

    Glowy, showy sunflower is an attention-getter—and a prizewinner in our trials. Dazzling flame type sunflower offers a sensuous color contrast, the dark black disk orbited by ray petals in scarlet red flame, finishing to gold at their tapered tips. Five to six feet tall, it will keep your vases ablaze with Aztec magic. 

 

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All-America Selections

"To promote new garden seed varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America."

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