Enjoying the Flower Garden

    • Gaura is a carefree perennial which has been nicknames “Whirling Butterflies.” It comes with white or pink flowers or with variegated foliage.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool-season crops now. Transplant them to the garden next month and they will be producing for you this fall.
    • Remove suckers on rose bushes. These vigorous canes emerge from below the bud union and should be cut off as far down as possible.
    • Fuchsias will bloom all summer if you remove faded flowers and seed pods and fertilize every ten days with a liquid fertilizer like Miracle Gro.
    • Fountains create the sound of moving water that is restful and cooling on the patio or in the garden. They recirculate water so only an occasional “topping off” is necessary.

Edible Flowers back in Vogue

Many of the plants we now grow for their flowers were once grown for their flavors as well. Today, the ancient art of cooking with flowers is enjoying a revival, and many restaurant chefs and innovative home cooks are garnishing their entrees with flower blossoms for a touch of elegance.

Daylilies are one of the many flowers that have been used in cooking. Natives of the Orient, daylilies are a common staple in Chinese households. These colorful flowering perennials are also very popular garden plants today. The blossoms come in yellow, orange, red and many shades in between. Each blossom lasts only a day, but the plants bloom so profusely that they are attractive for a long time.

Long before daylilies reached Western gardens, they were grown in the fields of central China and valued for their delicate flavor. The buds were eaten as a spring tonic, and extra buds were dried for use during the winter.

Pick daylily flowers in the afternoon. (You’ll not be missing much bloom because they will be faded by the next day.) Wash in cool water and pat them dry. Use them in soups and stir fries or add them to the salad.

Other common edible flowers include nasturtiums, Johnny-Jump-Ups, borage, chive blossoms, calendulas, dianthus, hollyhock, marigold and sunflowers. Nasturtiums are among the most delicious edible flowers, with a mildly spicy flavor. Johnny-Jump-Ups make lovely garnishes and decorations and have a faint wintergreen taste that is pleasant to the palate.

The dainty star-shaped, sky-blue flowers of borage add a cool cucumbery flavor to the salad. Chive blossoms, in lavender-pink, have a subtle onion flavor that goes well with salads, eggs and potatoes. The bright yellow and orange flowers of calendulas, which prefer the cooler days of spring and fall, are also edible. Pull out the flower petals and add them to salads, rice dishes, eggs and cheese for a tangy, slightly bitter flavor.

Dianthus have a mild clove flavor that is used as a garnish for fruit salads and cold drinks. Hollyhock petals are used in salads for a mild, sweet flavor. Marigolds lend a spicy, citrusy flavor to salads and sunflower petals have a bittersweet flavor.

Do be cautious about eating flowers. Allergic reactions are always possible with any new food, so sample sparingly the first time you try any edible flower. It is possible that people who suffer from hay fever will have a bad reaction from the pollen, so it may be best to skip the edible flowers.

For best flavor, use flowers at their peak. Flowers that are faded or wilted will taste bitter. Perk up your summer salads and hot dishes with some edible flowers.

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