Vegetables can also take their place in the mixed border, along with herbs, perennials and shrubs. This relaxed attitude to growing vegetables allows you to add plants for color and to fill gaps. It also has practical value as the more varied the planting, the more it helps to prevent a build-up of the pests and diseases attracted to particular plants. French marigolds, for example, and pot marigolds attract beneficial insects and deter harmful ones, so planting vegetables in a mixed border next to them will be beneficial.
Ruby chard is a coarse, spinach-like vegetable with deep purple leaves and spectacular scarlet stems and veins. It associates dramatically with herbaceous plants at the front of a border.
Ornamental cabbages have wonderful winter colors of bright purple and blue-green, sometimes with cream markings and firm, rounded, symmetrical shapes. They are at their best in winter and can brighten up a dormant border in the colder months.
Vegetables and fruit on the patio
Apples on dwarfing rootstocks, tomatoes, runner beans – in fact a complete miniature kitchen garden – can be grown in containers on a patio. The colors, the different leaf forms and the fruit and vegetables themselves can prove an attractive combination.
Strawberries look particularly attractive poking out of strawberry pots. A practical advantage is that you can slip out and pick a few fruits or vegetables as needed. You must make sure you feed and water them regularly or the results will be disappointing.