Water is more and more expensive. Dry years are more and more numerous in our area. However, there is no denying that we all enjoy the splash of color flowers add to our gardens. So let’s get the most bang for our buck. When choosing your posies, opt for ones that are edible or whose pretty flowers turn into veggies for our meals.
Let me suggest a few possibilities and how to use them. Scatter petals of calendula, [C. officialis] for color or nasturtium [Tropaeolum magus] for a bit of zing in a bean or lettuce salad. Calendula petals can also be used as a substitute for saffron to color rice and brighten cheese and egg dishes. Pansies [Viola wittrock-iana], violas [Viola odorata], and Johnny-Jump-Ups [Viola tricolor] are pretty as toppings in salads. They can be used to decorate cakes and soft cheeses or sprinkled on soups, pasta or rice dishes.
Vegetables don’t have to be relegated to the vegetable garden. Okra [Abelmoschus esculentus] has beautiful, hibiscus-like blooms that lend a tropical flair to the garden. These flowers develop into the edible pods. For an added bit of col-or, look for red varieties like “Burgundy”, “Red Velvet” or “Little Lucy.” For those of us who grow herbs in our gardens, remember that the flowers of parsley [Petroselinum hortense], cilantro [Coriandrum sativum], dill [Anethum graveo-lens], chives [Allium schoenoprasum], sages [Salvia spp.], fennel [Foeniculum vulgate], anise hyssop [Agastache foenic-ulum], borage [Borago officinalis], chamomile [Matricaria chamomilla] and arugula [Eruca sativa] are all edible. Some add color, some a bit of zing. Most are similar in flavor to their leaves. Use chive flowers fresh as they lose their flavor when cooked.
Sugared borage flowers decorated my daughter’s 2nd birthday as well as her wed-ding cake. My grandchildren and I love to nibble on them while walking past them in the garden. Keep in mind with all of these suggestions that you should check the botanical name (italicized after the name when first listed in this article) so you know exactly what you are growing and eating. Also, avoid using pesticides on plants you eat. Always remove the pistils and stamens from the flowers before you eat them. If you suffer from hay fever, asthma or allergies you should probably re-frain from eating flowers. That said, plant them anyway. They won’t feed your body but will feed your soul.

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