The kitchen garden at Trafford Hall near Chester where I was Head Gardener for over eleven years.
Scented Pelargonium makes a beautifully fragrant floral sugar that you can use for meringue, cakes and biscuits
Crown Jewels Salad
My very favourite soup - courgette made even better with chive and wild garlic flowers
The yummiest ice cream ever - lavender and honey with rose petal sorbet.
To find dates and book a place on my next ‘The Floral Kitchen’ workshop – click here
To find dates and book a place on my next ‘Healthy Home-made Chocolate’ workshops – click here
Hello Gardening Friends!
I've often been asked how to make a veg plot prettier without sacrificing productivity. The assumption seems to be that flowers are a frivolous addition, not useful and certainly not worthy of a place next to the leeks! In today's offering I want to show you that flowers not only add to the aesthetics but that they also add to the productivity. Firstly, they can be used as companion plants and secondly, they can be used as a crop in themselves. There are lots of flowers that are edible and today's blog will illustrate just how fabulous they can be when used in your cooking. (If you want to know about companion planting never fear - there'll be a post about that soon).
I love an ornamental kitchen garden – ideally one that nestles within an old walled garden; sheltered, warm, tucked away, private, secret; a delightful surprise, bursting with colour and humming with its own vitality.
I guess that this is a garden that many of us have aspired to at some point in our lives. This is the vision that prompted me to become a professional gardener in the first place and maybe this is your grand scheme now. If so, read on, you may find some inspiration.
We may not have the walled idyll of the grand 18th century estates, (think Chatsworth, think Pride & Prejudice – you know Colin Firth and all that), but we can all create a kitchen garden that is both productive and beautiful – even in a small space.
What’s more the beautiful can also be edible.
One way of achieving this is to either grow edible flowers and herbs alongside your fruit and veg, or if space is at a premium, just go for the flowers.
I'm a HUGE fan of edible flowers . They play a big part in my garden at home and in the food I eat. I also use them to make gifts of jams, jellies, biscuits and chocolate.
I love the colour, texture and floral notes that flowers add to my cooking and baking: a summertime salad of nasturtium, borage and calendula, (see picture left), chive flowers on my courgette soup, lavender + honey ice cream (my favourite) and rose petal sorbet; all visually stunning and really delicious. It’s all really easy and yet feels so very special. Just imagine your summer al fresco lunch with flowers taking centre stage – fab!
Whenever I run The Floral Kitchen workshop, everyone is surprised
and wowed by the onslaught on their senses. Each recipe we make delights the eyes and nose and offers varieties of texture and flavour that are all new and exciting.
What's more adding flowers to your diet also adds colour. This is important nutritionally as well as aesthetically. Flowers make food look appealing but the often vivid colours also mean they contain good things too – like anti-oxidants, vitamins and trace elements. A colourful meal is often a healthy one.
So, next time you settle down in your armchair to plan your ornamental kitchen garden, why not include a few edible flowers? The bees and hoverflies will be delighted and so will your eyes and taste buds come dinnertime.
Until next time…….
Want to know more? Click on the link in the left sidebar to download a list of safe to eat edible flowers complete with notes on how to use them and how to grow them yourself.
PS A word of warning though – not all flowers are edible and some can be deadly . Foxglove, Aconite and Lily of the Valley spring to mind. You need to be cautious and only eat what you know to be safe.
Over to You:
What are your favourite edible flowers and what do you like to make with them? I’d love to hear your stories. Just drop me a line in the comments section below.