Rookies lead Angels past Chanel Caviar Bags A, 8

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Today's home gardeners might not think twice before planting 'Dinosaur' kale or 'Ichiban' eggplant among their zinnias and cosmos, but when Rosalind Creasy first tucked herbs and artichokes behind the flowers in her front yard garden in 1975, it was a revolutionary act.

Things were different then, she said. "Edible plants were considered second-class citizens, grown behind the garage in rows. You were a suspect person if you put them in the front."

Creasy, who is today considered the guru of edible landscaping, was passionate about land even then. She was a stay-at-home mom until her kids reached junior high, but she also volunteered with the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters to fight for Santa Clara County farmland, which once supported 62 major food crops. That battle was ultimately lost to development, but she's still fighting for "the highest, best use of soil" in home gardens.

The seed of Chanel Outlet her campaign began when she and her husband visited an Israeli kibbutz in the late 1970s. When the tour guide explained that to build arable soil they had to transport food waste from the city for seven years at $15,000-$20,000 an acre, it hit home. In her book she writes, "I knew that Americans across the nation were wasting - even polluting - millions of acres of valuable agricultural soil around their homes. Where folks were growing lawns, junipers, and maybe a tree or two, they could grow a meaningful amount of food, which would be a much higher and nobler use of their soil."

At the time, she was taking a landscape design class at Foothill College. Out of 450 plants the class studied, only two were edibles. When she returned from Israel, she told her instructor that she wanted to include edibles in her final design project. "That's salad-bowl gardening," he said, dismissing the idea.

Luckily for us, she ignored him and wrote "Theplete Book of Edible Landscaping," published in 1982 by Sierra Club Books. The book went on to win several awards and had three hardcover and 11 paperback printings, with more than 93,000 copies in print.

Now, after six years of work, Creasy's new edition, "Edible Landscaping" (Sierra Club Books; 432 pages; $39.95), is poised to inspire a new generation of home gardeners. The new book has five chapters on design, up-to-date environmental practices, an encyclopedia of edibles (with tips on how to purchase, grow and use each edible), and mouth-watering color photographs. All the photos were taken by Creasy, who since her salad days has be a respected and award-winning author, photographer and landscape designer. A number of the photographs represent gardens across America, but most of the shots were taken in her own, evolving Los Altos yard.

The trend to grow food in home gardens may have saturated some neighborhoods, but deep in suburbia most of the houses continue to be adorned by junipers and lawns. Driving through one of these neighborhoods, it's impossible to miss Creasy's yard, an explosion of color and edibles. It starts with the soil, which she amends with homemadepost and chicken manure from her front-yard coop. "You can put your arm into my soil up to your shoulder," she says.

Touring Creasy's 2,000 square-foot front-yard garden is like visiting Willy Wonka's chocolate factory - there's something edible everywhere you turn. At the start of fall, the stevia leaves were sweet, the Hungarian peppers were red and waxy, and the figs were nearly ripe.

Garden as lab

Her favorite basil, 'Pesto Perpetua,' was pruned into formal cones, and Chanel Short Wallets the vegetable plot had bush beans, radishes, carrots, cilantro and potatoes planted by the neighborhood kids. The season for the trellised 'Black Satin' blackberry was over but had yielded 8 quarts. The 'Roma' and 'Sun Gold' tomato plants climbing the arbor still had plenty of fruit for visitors and FedEx deliverers.

Her garden serves as a research lab and photo studio, and Creasy has changed its design at least 50 times. "My dad never told me I couldn't," she says. When Creasy was 5, her dad gave her a garden plot along with tomato seedlings, strawberry runners and lima beans, which she proceeded to move around "as readily as furniture in my dollhouse." Recently, when she moved a rose bush for the fourth time, she told it, "Keep your bags packed, baby."

Kate Eng began crossing the street to Creasy's garden and chicken coop when she was 2. By 3, she could determine which eggs came from which chickens by the eggs' color and size. Now 5, she visits so frequently that she has her own sign, "Caution, Kate Crossing!"

Creasy calls Kate the "chicken whisperer." Kate said all but one of the chickens let her "take them places," and they especially like to go to thepost pile in the backyard where she gives them "special treats," namely roly-poly bugs.

One evening, Kate came over to say goodnight to the elderly rooster, Mr. X, and asked Creasy about a bag of lima beans on the table. "We shelled them together and it became a game of who could get three in a pod instead of two," says Creasy. When Kate's mom came over, Kate said, "Mom, you don't keep me busy enough. Why don't you give me jobs like this?"

Creasy builds her garden with kids in mind. They are allowed to pick blueberries and strawberries and feed the chickens with the sorrel that grows close to the street.

"It's primordial for them," says Creasy. "In the garden, their DNA dances."

Seeds of change

"This is much more global than putting pretty edible plants in your garden. My garden is the soul of the neighborhood," she says. "It's not a matter of 'I have alpine strawberries and you don't.' I plant strawberries so that my neighbors and I can put them in our champagne. We laugh, eat and talk as we pick them, and it makes life real. Boring ornamentals don't do that."

The Bay Area is rife with female pioneers, and Rosalind Creasy is one of them. This activist, who literally wrote the book on edible landscaping, wants to change the world one home garden at a time, and she needs your help.