Delaware Gardening Tips from the Pros: The Kitchen Garden

Edible plants nurture the body as well as the soul. Valerie Cordrey, of East Coast Garden Center in Millsboro, makes jam from the kumquats that grow on a tree she keeps outdoors in summer and brings inside during the winter. Rosemary might serve up an aromatic border for a kitchen garden. Arugula is a delicious, slightly peppery addition to patio pots. It’s also a quick, easy grower, so encourage the kids to plant and pick their own greens—and then eat them in a salad.

“Blueberries are super, too, because they love Delaware—and they are beautiful year-round,” she says.

Indeed. In fall, the leaves turn deep red. In deepest winter, the shrubs are sculptures, with exfoliating bark that adds texture to the landscape. In spring, blueberries send off bell-shaped blossoms. And in summer, they yield fat, juicy berries.

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“The hard part is keeping the birds from getting the berries before you do,” she says.

Muhlenbergia capillaris, known as pink muhly grass, is a go-to choice for landscaping at your beach house, standing tall in the midst of sun and drought. As summer fades, muhly still has lots of kick, sending out puffy pink plumes.

Cordrey encourages gardeners to repurpose plants, moving small shrubs to another spot in the yard when they outgrow a window box. And if your irises are unhappy in the plot beneath the oak tree, dig them up and move them to a less shaded setting they might like better.

“If you love roses but not the upkeep, go with a Knock Out or one of the other disease-resistant roses,” she advises. “Daisies aren’t fussy, either, great for dividing and sharing with friends.”

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