A GARDENER'S DIARY: They’re beautiful and edible

In the last column, I mentioned I would write about more edible flowers and here they are. Just a note that some people might be allergic to the calendula petals as I was reminded by a friend after he read the article.

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Daisy-like flowers are features of this annual. Its sweet, apple fragrance and taste make chamomile popular as a tea. Chamomile grows in full sun to partial shade and prefers a sandy, well-drained soil. It blooms from late spring through late summer. To make tea, harvest the flowers when the petals begin to droop. Add one cup boiling water for each three to four teaspoons of fresh flowers or half the amount if dried. Cover and steep for three minutes, strain and serve. Individuals who are sensitive to ragweed should uses caution when drinking this tea.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) Lavender-pink flowers appear on this perennial in June. Regular picking encourages repeat blooms. Harvest flowers when they are just beginning to open. Chives grow in full sun to part shade. They prefer a moist, well-drained soil. Chive flowers have a mild onion flavour. Break apart the florets and add to salads, cooked vegetables, casseroles, cheese dishes, eggs, potatoes or cream cheese. Chive flowers do not dry well.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis species) Easy- to-grow perennials. Depending on the cultivar, daylilies bloom from early summer to frost in many colours. Plant in full sun to part shade. Daylilies tolerate many soil types but prefer well-drained soils that are high in organic matter. Divide clumps every three to five years. Daylily blossoms have a sweet flavour, especially the pale yellows and oranges. Use in salads or as garnishes. Float in punch bowls for decoration or stuff with soft cheeses for an appetizer.

Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) These long-blooming annuals have glossy foliage and are available in a variety of flower colours, including bicolours. Flowers may be single or double. Impatiens grow in shade to part sun in a moist organic soil. The flowers have a sweet flavour and can be used as a garnish, in salads or floated in drinks.

Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) This widely planted shrub puts on a colourful fragrant display in early spring. Lilacs perform best in well-drained soils in full sun. Some lilacs have a perfumed, floral taste that lends itself to many uses. Try it with vanilla yogurt, candied as a cake or pie decoration.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) This annual has richly coloured flowers. The leaves have a distinctive round shape. Plants produce the most flowers in full sun. Avoid fertilization. Plants in highly fertile soils produce lush foliage but few flowers. Nasturtium flowers have a peppery, zesty taste that can substitute for mustard in sandwiches. Add to salads. They make an attractive garnish on a plate or add colour when petals are added to butter. Capers are a gourmet condiment and pickled nasturtium seed pods are an impressive substitute.

Roses (Rosa species) Flower size, fragrance and flavour vary among the many rose species and varieties. Generally the flowers or the older types, such as rugosa roses, are the most flavourful. Roses need full sun and a rich, well-drained soil. Roses have a perfumed taste. Pick off the petals and remove the whitish, bitter base. Add to salads or make jelly.

Violets (Viola odorata) Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolor) Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) They grow in sun or shade. Violas have a sweet, wintergreen or perfumed flavour. Use petals to colour butter. Float flowers in punch, use in fruit salads, or candy for decorating cakes and pies. Bon appétit.

For more information, please call 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.

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