Grow beautiful and tasty crops

Ornamental crops look great in your flower borders and are delicious to eat too

Try ornamental crops that taste as good as they look

by |

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potato
Sweet potato ©Gap

Sweet potatoes are related to morning glory and convolvulus, so it’s no surprise they look good with that pedigree. Their leaves are beautifully heart-shaped and scramble fantastically as a foliage plant over the edge of a pot. Plants love lots of warmth, shelter and sun. How to grow If you can get hold of plants or slips now, set them outside in pot and they’ll get going from next month.

Herb fennel

Herb fennel
Herb fennel ©Gap

Related to Florence fennel, this is the perennial herb version, which grows very tall with equally feathery leaves and lovely flower umbels in summer. Used for its leaves, it adds a lot to fish dishes with its aniseed aroma, but it’s equally at home in either green or bronze versions in the flower border. How to grow Sow now, prick out and pot up plants outside. Plug plants are also available now from the herb section of garden centres.

Chard

Chard
Chard ©Shutterstock

Chard comes in a catwalk-worthy selection of colours, and is a reliable plant. It works well as a perennial, holding its form and all its stalks for months, unless you harvest them for stir fries of course. Makes a colourful border plant in rainbow hues, deep red, pink yellow or white. How to grow Sow now or plant plugs in full sun, but watch out for hungry slugs! Use as a medium-height border perennial with tasty

Cavolo Nero kale

Cavolo Nero kale
Cavolo Nero kale ©Alamy

This beautiful Tuscan kale is also really popular in this country, gracing kitchen gardens with its long, stippled, tongued leaves in deep green. It’s almost a shame to harvest it! Plant it out as a foliage plant at mid-border level in sun or part-shade, where it’ll look eye-catching for much of the year. How to grow Sow in modules now or plant plugs for summer, and you can also sow later this summer to grow for an autumn-winter harvest.

Runner bean 'Sunset'

Runner bean 'Sunset'
Runner bean 'Sunset'

Runner beans are generally attractive plants, with lovely heart-shaped leaves and pretty flowers, but this exciting heritage climbing variety is very different. It’s got lovely salmon-pink flowers which you can eat, a departure from the usual white or red. How to grow There’s still time now for sowing runner beans, which you can plant out in a few weeks to romp away for the rest of summer

Red-veined sorrel

Red-veined sorrel
Red-veined sorrel ©Shutterstock

Sorrel is a fantastic herb anyway, adding citrussy tang to fish dishes and livening up a salad no end. The red-veined variety is particularly pretty, though, rivalling even the most beautiful heuchera! Grow one or two plants in their own patio pot just outside the back door in sun or light shade. How to grow Sow now, prick out and pot up plants outside. Sow every couple of weeks this and next month for a continuous harvest.

Globe artichokes

Globe artichokes
Globe artichokes ©Shutterstock

A large, dramatic border perennial with beautiful purple flowers and huge serrated leaves. Place plants in sun at the back of the border where you can almost forget it’s actually meant to be a crop! Leave some to flower for appeal, but harvest small heads for eating before they flower. How to grow Plant plugs out now bought from nurseries or garden centres.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us