Birds usually snag Yulia Frumer’s blackberries before they have a chance to ripen, but she gets to enjoy plenty of other treats growing in her yard just blocks from the Homewood campus.
Frumer, who holds the Bo Jung and Soon Young Kim Professorship of East Asian Science as associate professor in the Department of the History of Science and Technology, was already an experienced vegetable gardener, but stumbled into edible landscaping during the early days of the pandemic. “You can have something beautiful in the garden, and have it be edible, or if you want to grow something edible, you can also make it beautiful,” she says.
Just down the hill from her fig and quince trees, oyster mushrooms sprout several times a year in the tree stumps Frumer inoculated with spores. Herbs including sage and tarragon, nasturtiums and dill spill down a vertical stone spiral she constructed near the sunchokes. There’s a hedge of pomegranates to share with the neighbors, and around a corner are persimmon, plum, and native pawpaw trees, and medicinal herbs including echinacea, valerian root, and chamomile. Even the daylilies are edible.
It’s been a Zen experience of relinquishing control to weather, pests and disease, and plants with minds of their own, Frumer says. “One of the lessons is that you can’t get too attached to any of this.”