Edible Eden’s two-tiered, raised-bed installations represent yet another way to easily achieve an edible gardening foodscape. (Photo courtesy Josh Rosenstein)

Although last fall’s edition of the Maryland Home & Garden Show showcased more home than garden, two of the show’s garden exhibitors had some novel gardening ideas that reflected a few of 2019’s top gardening trends, all of which look to continue to grow into 2020.
Those trends begin with the concept of edible gardening from Edible Eden Baltimore Foodscapes.
As the Millennials grow up, their demographic has been driving the concept of knowing where your food comes from.
“People are more aware now that the food we eat and put in our bodies matters,” said Josh Rosenstein, Edible Eden’s founder and owner.
Edible gardening thus takes the return of growing your own food one step further by helping home gardeners fit what’s called foodscaping into an ecologically sustainable landscape, yet another frequently mentioned Top 10 gardening trend.
Foodscaping is “more than where can we stick a tomato plant,” said Rosenstein. “It’s also considering how we can grow the appropriate ecological systems within that landscape.”
As an example, Edible Eden bases one of its more popular landscape systems, guild gardens, on the natural principles found in permaculture where the guild garden’s plantings mimic the layered concept that naturally occurs in a forested area. For instance, a guild garden could begin at its tree layer with an Asian persimmon tree, “a self-fruitful tree that doesn’t need a pollinator, plus it holds its fruit even after it drops its leaves,” Rosenstein said.
He would then include at the bush level two low-bush blueberries and a currant bush, with strawberries coming in at the ground cover level.
In addition, Rosenstein would tap into yet another Top 10 gardening trend and include a few pollinator plants, such as echinacea or rudbeckia, along with some insectary plants such as sage, salvia, or artemisia. Together these perennials not only generate several layers of harvest yield over the course of a season, but also do it in a small space, “usually an 8-foot-diameter circle,” said Rosenstein.
For those with even less space, Rosenstein has introduced his company’s Microfarm, a 4-by-4-foot-planter with multi-tiered raised beds and a built-in drip irrigation system.
Add in succession planting from early spring to late fall along with a variety of vegetable plants, and Rosenstein’s clients not only realize “‘Wow, I can actually do this [edible gardening] in my backyard,’” but also that it’s a simple and smart solution “to get the most value from fresh foods” in a small space.
Smart, environmentally-sound solutions also epitomize the SmartSlope living retaining wall developed and manufactured by Baltimore’s Furbish, which is offered and installed by a number of Maryland landscape suppliers and design services, including The Stone Store, McHale Landscape, Walnut Hill Nurseries, and, at the Show, Eos Outdoor Services of Ellicott City. EOS’s Show display demonstrated the innovative hardscape element crowned with a planting of colorful pansies and trailing ivy.
“We felt it was a fantastic concept,” said Rachel Lyons, Landscape Designer for EOS, “It gives us a lot of alternatives: it allows for plants in a space where you wouldn’t normally have plants; it stabilizes the soil; and, it adds color and texture to what would otherwise be a fairly plain hardscape.”
In addition to that, Lyons noted that a SmartSlope wall “uses much less product than a regular wall because of the way it’s staggered.”
Taylor also pointed out that SmartSlope walls “are a great solution for shoreline applications. Inspectors and regulators are more accepting of its installation because it’s a lush alternative,” and it extends shoreline ecological habitat areas. Indeed, as noted on Furbish’s website, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has endorsed SmartSlope “as a ‘soft’ shoreline in coastal areas.”
Further the wall’s flexibility coupled with a fast growing plant means a new system can be established in as little as six months. Rachel Taylor, Furbish’s Assistant Product Manager for SmartSlope, noted they demonstrated this aspect when they put up a display wall at one of their Maryland distributors, planted it with sedum plugs one November, and had the wall totally covered with plant matter by the following June.
In short, the combination produced a demonstrable solution to quickly and easily stabilize steep slopes and shorelines.
Such innovative gardening solutions, noted Rosenstein, are not so much trendy, but rather a practical offshoot of larger sustainable agricultural practices and sediment control methods.
And, translating such practices to our yards, he continued, “makes the world a better place with every square foot under cultivation.”