Incredible Edible Blooms

It is said that 'the earth laughs in flowers' (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Certainly you'd be hard pushed to find many who don't find flowers beautiful and uplifting in a garden design. Flowers, however, can offer much more than decoration in an ornamental border.

The list of edible flowers is long, including a few you might not expect. Many grow wild including ransoms (wild garlic), which look like white fireworks or the dainty wood violets; a true beauty and delicious in scotch pancakes.

It goes without saying you should never eat anything you pick unless you're absolutely sure of what it is.

There are many varieties you can grow easily in the vegetable garden that not only provide blooms to garnish and enhance your cooking but also attract beneficial insects to assist in pollination and pest control. Predatory hoverflies delight in calendula and honey and bumblebees love borage flowers. Don't be afraid to mix them up with your veg planting for visual interest and to confuse pests. The smell of chives are said to be great for deterring aphids and carrot fly and nasturtiums will attract cabbage white butterflies away from your brassicas, laying their eggs on the leaves and thus saving your crop.

Some flowers have a stronger flavour than others, or lend themselves well to particular dishes. Pea flowers impart a wonderful fresh pea flavor (just ensure you leave plenty on the plants to achieve a decent crop) and stuffed courgette flowers are fast becoming an English delicacy.

If you're feeling adventurous you might like to try kale flower and lemon spaghetti.

For more information about edible flowers, go to www.edibleflowershop.co.uk