September Colour

September Colour

I must confess to having a somewhat boring fall garden. The asters aren’t out yet, the rudbeckia have thinned out too much, and the echinacea is mostly in the back yard (altho’ if I ever get a moment to do some planting, there are three different echinacea varieties to go out into the front yard).

So here’s what’s currently in bloom at my house:

Julia Child rose

Rosa ‘Julia Child’

Echinacea 'Pow wow'

Echinacea ‘Pow wow’–this is what still needs to be planted…

Crocosmia

Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’

Rose 'Cinco de Mayo'

Rosa ‘Cinco de Mayo’

Rose 'Cinco de Mayo'

Rosa ‘Cinco de Mayo’

Skimmia japonica berries just beginning to turn red

Skimmia japonica berries just beginning to turn red

Three different (un-named) varieties of Calluna vulgaris (heather).

Three different (un-named) varieties of Calluna vulgaris (heather). They’ll be potted up in a nice big planter with some grasses and pansies and mums for a Fall container.

The  pansies (violas) to go in the planter.

The pansies (violas) to go in the planter.

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)--so excited to get this the other day--I've been wanting to add it to the garden for years!

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)–so excited to get this the other day–I’ve been wanting to add it to the garden for years! Oh dear, now renamed Eutrochium.

Campsis radicans

Campsis radicans

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea purpurea

Nasturtiums--try adding the flowers to salads and the leaves to sandwiches.

Nasturtiums–try adding the flowers to salads and the leaves to sandwiches.

Colourful swiss chard.

Colourful swiss chard.

Even more colourful swiss chard.

Even more colourful swiss chard.

Garlic chives with predatory wasp.

Garlic chives with parasitic (I think) wasp.

Amazing Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus). It took me ages to edit the colour of this to even appriach the actual colour--the real colour is actually still a little bluer than this.

Amazing Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus). It took me ages to edit the colour of this to even approach the actual colour–which is still a little bluer than this.

Gravenstein

Gravenstein

Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora 'Limelight'--my current favourite hydrangea.

Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora ‘Limelight’–my current favourite hydrangea. It’s lost all its lime colouring and beginning to get tinged with pink.

Hibiscus syriacus 'Red Heart'

Hibiscus syriacus ‘Red Heart’

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5 Tips for Growing and Enjoying Edible Flowers

Anyone can grow edible flowers. Of course you know that, but you aren’t doing it, or aren’t harvesting them, or aren’t interested, or don’t know how.

Well, since this blog is all about giving you tools to enjoy your garden more, here’s some timely tips for growing and using edible flowers. (Timely? OK, not so timely–just bookmark this for next spring.)

1. First of all, what flowers can be eaten?

Easy: for a start, flowers from almost any herb.

Chives

Chives

And these are especially good to harvest, because if the plant is left to flower, it stops vegetative growth– fewer leaves. Most of the flowers will taste like the herb, but I find some are either more pungent (eg. cilantro) than I care for.

Here’s a brilliant list of edible flowers from whatscookingamerica.net

2. Which edible flowers should you grow?

This depends on what colours you like, what flavours you like, and whether you’ll eat enough to grow something you don’t care to look at. For example, I’m not that fond of lemon balm, since it completely took over my garden and I’m still trying to get rid of it. So even tho’ I love the smell of it, I’d never be able to use enough to justify growing it.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

Nasturtium on the other hand is the opposite for me: they are a terrible aphid-magnet (black aphid, the worst kind IMO), but I love the taste of the flower and especially the leaves so much, I put up with the bug issue. That is, I deal with the bug issue with sprays of water.

3. What part to pick? Pick the whole flower, but usually you’ll only use the petals, removing any white bits at the bottom of the petal. Exceptions are nasturtiums, daylily  (use the flower for stuffing), squash (ditto for stuffing). Even those need the stamens and pistils removed.

Rose petals can be dried and the flavour gets a bit stronger.

Rose petals can be dried and the flavour gets a bit stronger.

The great things about picking flowers is that in most cases you are stimulating more flower production. Has to do with hormones…

4. How to use the flower part? Wow, where to start? Scones, shortbreads, soups, salads, pasta, rice, jellies, spreads, chutneys, eggs, vinaigrettes. Again, the link above has lots of info. My suggestion: plan your dish then go to the garden to see what will work in it. Or look  at your flowers and decide which you’d like to try next.

5. Things to be cautious about? Make sure you know that the flower you’re planning to eat is safe. *Don’t eat flowers from anywhere other than your own garden, unless you are confident it’s pesticide/herbicide free. *Don’t use pesticides/herbicides on your own flowers. As with almost everything these days, *make sure you’re not allergic to them by trying a small quantity before gorging. And *check to make sure it’s not poisonous. If you can’t identify the plant, best not to risk it.

There you go, now you know enough to get started. And you’ll probably find yourself searching recipes for lavender flowers, rose petals, and of course, nasturtiums!

Leave me a comment or a recipe! What are your favourite flowers and uses?