Broad beans

Fava or broad beans have unusual black and white flowers.

You can grow vegetables and herbs in a separate garden or integrated with flower gardens. Some vegetable flowers are highly ornamental. Here’s a selection of some decorative and unusual vegetables that are interesting enough to add to the flower garden!

Red Runner beans are almost as decorative as sweet peas and thrive in full sun. They have bright scarlet sweet-pea type flowers and the beans are best harvested before they get large and rather tough. (If you live in a mild climate with hot summers, save the sweet peas and other podded peas for the winter when they appreciate the cooler temperatures. Incidentally, sweet pea seed pods are poisonous!)

Asparagus peas are unusual vegetables you can grow from seed. They make a low ground cover with deep red flowers and crop curious little long, seamed bean-like vegetables that do taste a bit like asparagus.

Fava beans or broad beans create small bushes and flower with rows of white flowers with a big black blotch at the base of each flower. The black and white flowers are highly unusual and the beans are great so long as you are not one of the few people who are allergic.

Try growing some unusual tomatoes. There are some outrageous colored and shaped fruits, and now you can even grow your own sun-dried tomatoes right on the plant. Grow tumbling tomato plants from hanging baskets or tall staked plants for backdrops to cover walls or fences.

Rhubarb, if you have a spot with rich, moist soil and some shade, will produce huge red-tinged tropical-looking plants with tasty stems. Avoid leaves as they are somewhat toxic.

And for really big exotic looking foliage you can’t beat artichokes. Leave lots of room for these fellers as they can easily grow six feet tall with a similar girth. They do attract aphids and, thus, ants, so try hosing down foliage and buds frequently to keep ‘em clean. The buds are the part we eat, but if you leave a few to open, you’ll be rewarded with big indigo-blue brush-like blooms. Unlike rhubarb, artichokes are drought tolerant and will accept leaner soils.

There are decorative and unusual vegetables like celeriac, brilliantly colored Swiss Chard (which is grown for its leaves, not roots), parsnips and salsify.

These are just a selection of some of the less commonly grown decorative and unusual vegetables that will look great in the garden. You can even grow unusual varieties of common vegetables like white eggplants, orange cauliflowers, yellow beets and purple broccoli. Make growing edibles into something special while enhancing the look of your garden!