All too often, those looking for garden inspiration seem to divide plants for a garden into two categories – edible and useful plants are placed in one category, and ornamental plants in another.
Unfortunately, this type of segregation blinds people to the beauty of edible and useful plants, and to the culinary or other uses of many plants usually thought of as ornamentals.
If you are choosing a tree to plant in your garden over the dormant period, do not look for an ‘ornamental tree’ – the very best gardens have features which are not just useful, not just ornamental – but both.
Taking a permaculture approach often means that aesthetics are not the primary concern, but that does not mean that a permaculture garden is not just as beautiful as it is ‘useful’.
All trees can be beautiful, of course. But looking at their appearance and form as well as looking at their yields can help us find the options that will work best for our own personal aesthetics, as well as within our own specific space.
Fruit trees often have beautiful blossom in spring, and can also have interesting foliage, or beautiful bark, as well as providing their fruit. Crab apples, Amelanchier, cherry trees and elder are just some of the fruit trees for a garden that can also provide a lot of visual appeal.
In Europe, olives and strawberry tree are two evergreen options to consider. But it is a good idea to look at trees native in your area. Many may be highly beautiful and they have also have yields that you may have overlooked (often yields which were utilised by indigenous people).
Thinking both practically and aesthetically at the same time can often help you find the very best possible choices when choosing trees and other plants for your garden.