Is it an October surprise or a well-planned edible landscape? It is a delicious surprise in
Column: Mountain Gardening
Boedy’s edible landscape
By Cynthia Hendry
Almost everyone cruising by Robert and Belinda Boedy’s lovely home at 186 Wild Pansy in Big Canoe's Wildcat neighborhood notes the detail of the lovely stone wall running parallel with the street, as well as the application of assorted river rock strategically placed for erosion control at the driveway and street edges. Few note, however, more than 50 percent of the plant material utilized in this landscape is edible.
Fruit, fruit, fruit
The Boedy's Big Canoe landscape represents a cutting edge trend around the country referenced as an edible landscape. Areas for fruit-producing plants, as well as small kitchen gardens, seem to be catching on, especially with the millennial generation. The millennials seem concerned about the quality of their food and hopeful their children will realize food comes from the earth rather than a box at the grocery.
The Boedy's have seven varieties of blueberries, two varieties of fig, raspberries, grapes and three dwarf pear trees. When asked why they chose to plant all this fruit, Dr. Boedy replied, "It is for my grandchildren and I like growing stuff." At the family's summer beach holiday at St. George, Boedy is famous for his blueberry pancakes and the fact they come from his landscape.
As a retired neonatologist, Dr. Boedy has a little more insight than the average grandparent about keeping children happy and healthy. He said, "Blueberries are like children magnets. They can't get enough. But my two-year-old granddaughter loves to wade through the red raspberries picking all the best ones as she goes."
This lovely stone retaining wall fronts 186 Wild Pansy Circle, the home of Robert and
Recalling our encounter with three cubs breaking into our screened porch, I asked Dr. Boedy how he managed the wildlife. He does not spray repellents. He utilizes Milorganite for fertilization, which gives some short-term protection. He recommends planting enough for the wildlife and your needs. He reports the bear did come for a few blueberries but they did not destroy the plants and left plenty for pancakes.
The Boedys began their plans for their dream landscape before they purchased their property, selecting a site that would offer sunlight and exposure to grow fruiting plants. They also made Big Canoe staff aware of their plans for retaining walls and the fruiting plant material, so everyone concerned was assured they were not creating an eyesore for the neighborhood.
The fruiting plants are placed in a naturalistic pattern, so the presentation appears to be typical of Big Canoe design. Blueberries are on the approved plant list and make a lovely landscape display from flowering to fruiting and, finally, to their lovely fall color in November. The bold leaf of the fig trees offer an interesting contrast to the finer texture of juniper groundcovers.
This is the second year for most of the plants, so they have required only minimal pruning and care. Dr. Boedy reported he has had no disease or pest issues thus far that could not be solved with a strong spray from the water hose or handpicking.
He keeps the plants well mulched with pine straw. This builds up a good layer of compost as well as retaining moisture.
If you have plenty of sunlight, this is a landscape design to consider. Some blueberry selections will produce in light shade. Blueberries are easy to grow and are almost maintenance free. Other selections, like apple, pear, fig and plum, are susceptible to late-spring frosts and require a little more attention.
Cynthia Hendry has lived and gardened in Big Canoe for 28 years. Her landscape design work includes Best of Show for Big Canoe Street of Dreams, as well as Big Canoe show homes for Southern Living and Atlanta magazines.