Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: Edible Landscaping; Podcast Interview; Book Giveaway Contest

Photographs copyright © by Rosalind Creasy
These days, we take for granted that folks are becoming “locavores,” and growing their own foods in their backyards, side yards and front yards. Why, even the White House has a kitchen garden, for the first time since World War II.

But back in the early 1980s, you were lucky to see a few tomatoes growing in a person’s garden. You certainly weren’t finding the blue potatoes, spotted lettuces, pink beans, striped tomatoes and colorful kales you see today. The old heirloom varieties that we have grown to love now seemed forgotten and under-appreciated back then. But all that has changed.

Photographs copyright © by Rosalind Creasy
And for that, we have much to thank Rosalind Creasy.

It was Rosalind’s book The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping (Sierra Club Books, 1982) that became the bible of edible landscaping nearly 30 years ago. When she first started talking about mixing flowers with edibles back in the early-80s, she was called that “crazy, hippy lady from California,” as she recently told the National Gardening Association.

Fortunately, that “crazy, hippy lady” – who has gone on to write a total of 18 very successful gardening books – has helped change the way we garden in this country. So, it seemed only appropriate that she just launched her new edition of Edible Landscaping, as the nation catches up with her love of edibles.

With more than 300 color photographs, 7 color garden plans and 20 b/w illustrations, Edible Landscaping (Sierra Club Books, 2010) is as delicious looking as it is information rich. Rosalind not only shows ideas from her own famous Northern California garden, but also those of clever edible gardeners around the nation. Listen to our Nest in Style interview with Rosalind and enter to win a copy of this book!!!

Photographs copyright © by Rosalind Creasy
As Rosalind explains, "The whole atmosphere around edible landscaping is different now,” she says. “We have more varieties of attractive edible plants available than ever before. Twenty years ago, few people even knew about heirloom plants, for example. Now it’s easy to find and grow heirloom apples, tomatoes, melons—varieties that people didn’t even know they were missing.”

The design section mixes photography and practical tips to help you leverage Rosalind’s 30 years of landscape design experience. I particularly liked the way she showed how absolutely lovely and luxurious edible plants can be. If anyone you know needs convincing that edibles deserve a star spot in any garden – including your front yard – show them a few pictures from this beautiful book.

Photographs copyright © by Rosalind Creasy
Above is a double-barrel herb garden that Rosalind shows how to make in the book, complete with detailed instructions, materials lists and installation tips.

Another wonderful feature is the comprehensive Encyclopedia of Edibles that provides a concise A-Z of valuable information for growing a wide variety of vegetables, fruit and herbs, using environmentally friendly practices. There are loads of growing tips, culinary uses and recommended varieties. Plus, there is plenty of advice on growing your own food using organic methods.

I was interested to learn from Susan Harris on Garden Rant that Rosalind redoes her edible gardens twice a year, including the hardscaping. The reason is because these gardens are her photo studio, and it shows in her amazing pictures … whether it’s blue teepees supporting beans or passion fruit. Or edible flowers like chives, nasturtiums, arugula and calendula, scattered among equally lovely vegetables and fruit.

I particularly like this shot of blackberries contrasting beautifully with 'polka' climbing roses.

Photographs copyright © by Rosalind Creasy
The best compliment I can give Edible Landscaping is that I already find myself reaching for this book again … and again, whenever I have a question or need a little inspiration for my own garden. It’s almost like having a chance to talk to Rosalind directly. And who wouldn’t want that?
Speaking of chatting with Rosalind ... here's a behind-the-scenes shot of me and Jayme Jenkins interviewing the edible landscaping guru herself. You can learn more by listening to Rosalind Creasy's podcast interview on Nest in Style. Also enter to win a free copy of the newly released Edible Landscaping. But hurry! Time is running out...

Buy this book! (Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book; but I would have bought a copy anyway.)


  1. Sounds like a wonderful book, I have to find me a copy! Carla

  2. I can't believe that it's already been 30 years since The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping was published. How time flies when one is gardening.

  3. Carla and Kat: You will love this book. I fell in love with the pictures too. Don't forget you can enter to win a free copy of this book. Get details and listen to her Nest in Style interview on iTunes or at

    Thanks very much for stopping by. Teresa