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the E D I B L E

FLOWER
GARDEN

Rosalind Creasy

PERIPLUS
First published in 1999 by Peri plus Editions ( HK) Ltd.,
with editorial offices at 364 Innovation Drive, North <;Iarendon, Vermont
05759 USA and and 61 Tai Seng Avenue, #02-12, Singapore 534167.

Photographs and text copyright CO 1999 Rosalind Creasy,


except p 49 (top); Gudi Riter
Illustrations by Marcie H awthorne

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or


utilized in a ny form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, record ing, o r by any information storage and retrieval
system, without prior written permission from the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Creasy, Rosalind.
The edible flower garden I by Rosalind Creasy. -1st ed.
106 p.: ill. (some col.}; 28 em.
lncludes bibliographical references {p. )
ISBN: 978-1-4629-0617-8 (ebook)
I. Flower gardening. 2. Flowers. 3. Plants, Edible. 4. Cookery
(Flowers) I. Title.
SB405.C765 1999
635.9-dc21 98036999
Distributed by: CIP

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contents
Edible Flower Gardens page 1
How To Grow Edible Flowers 10
My Edible Flower Gardens 16
Interview: Alice Waters 26

Encyclopedia of Edible Mowers page 29


From Anise Hyssop to Violets

Favorite Flower Recipes page 67


Flower Butters 70
Sweet Things 71
Candied Flowers 72
Edible Flower Canapes 74
Tulip and Endive Appetizer 75 Appendices page 92
Citrus Dip for Begonia Blossoms 76
Pineapple Sage Salsa 76 Appendix A: Planting and
Ricotta-Stuffed Zuchinni Flowers 77 Maintenance 92
Sage Tempura 77 Appendix B: Pest and Disease
Flower Confetti Salad 78 Control 99
Wild Violet Salad 79 Resources 103
Baby Shower Petal Salad 80 Acknowledgments 106
Mardi Gras Salad with Pecans 81
Poor Man's Pilaf82
Stir-Fried Beef with Anise Hyssop 83
Grilled Swordfish with Rosemary 84
Rose Petal Syrup 86
Rose Petal Sorbet 87
Lavender Ice Cream 87
Tangelo and Kiwi Salad with Orange
Blossoms 88
Scented Geranium, Creme Fraiche, and
Strawberries 89
Tea Cake with Anise Hyssop and Lemon 90
Lavender Shortbreads 90
edible
flower
gardens
I
t's incredible how many flowers or few pansy petals served in a restaurant
parts of flowers I've eaten in the past salad and still wasn't won over. It
few years—lavender petals made wasn't until I tasted lavender ice cream
into ice cream, zucchini blossoms at an herb seminar that I became really
stuffed with ricotta cheese, roses used enthusiastic. It was fantastic! I deter-
in butter, to name just a few. And I've mined there and then to learn more
made an effort to share the experience, about edible flowers.
serving unsuspecting guests unadorned Since that time I've probably asked
pineapple guava petals and an Art everyone I know to eat flowers. A few
Deco—style cake with candied pansies. people just plunge right in with de-
Not only do I eat edible flowers, but light, as if I've given them permission
I've become a missionary in promoting to enjoy a new pleasure. But most people
them! are much more hesitant. One friend
I'd love to be able to tell you about would accept my dinner invitation
the first flower I ever ate, but I can't to me, maybe even taboo. I remember only after warning, "But I won't try
remember what it was. It was probably eating rice garnished with calendula any of your darn flowers!" You'd have
a nasturtium, though, eaten nearly petals in Vermont and thinking that thought I was offering her fried cater-
twenty years ago. I'm certain I started they made the dish colorful but didn't pillars. I've tried to get people to ex-
slowly, since to eat flowers seemed odd add much to the flavor. Later I tried a plain their hesitation about eating
flowers, but they seem to have a hard

Edible flowers can be tucked into almost any garden scene. Here {left), pansies, roses, and
time doing so. I certainly have difficulty
chrysanthemums grow in my back garden. A bouquet of edible flowers (above) includes explaining my initial reluctance. Why
calendulas, scarlet runner beans, lavender, nasturtiums, and chive blossoms. The photo spread
do others? Is it because we hesitate to
on pages 2 and 3 shows a sunny border designed for a client. I interspersed the edible roses,
nasturtiums, and marigolds among the nonedible lantanas and plumbagos. I used their blue and try any new food? Somewhat. Is it a
lavender blooms to tone down the fiery reds and oranges. concern about the safety of eating them?

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

Maybe. But I've just about concluded


that, mainly, people believe that flow-
ers are almost magical, so beautiful
that only the eyes should feast on them.
To those folks, eating flowers seems a
bit greedy.
I've read everything I could find
about edible flowers. I've asked every
chef I've interviewed about his or her
experiences with them. And I've
tasted, tasted, and tasted every edible
flower I could get my hands on, even
stooping on occasion to sneak a bite of
my hostess's centerpiece.
I've found the information available
on edible flowers to be a strange
hodgepodge. Much of our knowledge
about edible flowers comes from old
herbals. But when I turned to the
herbals themselves, my confusion
mounted. Eating flowers was com-
monplace in medieval Europe, when
food often had a medicinal as well as a
nutritional purpose. Sometimes the old
recipes included dangerous flowers.
Thus, a dish might call for two or
three blossoms of foxglove, which is
classified as poisonous today. True, we
use foxglove to make digitalis, a heart
stimulant, but only in carefully mea-
sured doses. I realized, as I read the
old recipes, that the term poisonous is
relative.

Displays of edible flowers {right) at farmer's


market and exhibitions such as this one at the
Tasting of Summer Produce in Oakland,
California, get more sophisticated every year.
On display are fuchsias, Johnny-jump-ups,
tuberous begonias, nasturtiums, and rose
petals. Flower petal confetti {far right) is a
versatile little pleasure. Prior to serving, it can
be sprinkled over an entree plate, a salad, or
pastries.

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

As if the herbals' folk-medicine And then which of the edible flow-


approach didn't make it difficult ers are palatable? I collected a number
enough to determine which flowers of modern lists of edible flowers and
are safe to eat, our forebears often cautiously began my taste testing.
called flowers by different names. For Some were absolutely horrible! Ob-
instance, what we know as calendula viously, no one had tasted them before
they called marigold; what we call cot- adding them to the lists. For example,
tage pink was gillyflower. So I was some marigolds have a slightly lemony
faced with the challenge of making taste, others are tasteless, but the taste
sure the flowers referred to in the of most falls somewhere between
recipes matched the flowers we grow skunk and quinine. Furthermore, none
today. of these lists gave much guidance on
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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

how to eat the different kinds of flow- nent part of our cuisine. They offer could talk to how they prepared edible
ers. I remember innocently putting an another alternative to salt and sugar as flowers. A n d I arranged for a few
entire mullein petal into my mouth seasonings. N o t only do flowers make edible flower gardens to be grown for
and finding it to be horribly astringent. interesting seasonings, especially for this project: one by Carole Saville, an
I had the same experience with a car- those fruits and vegetables we want to herb specialist in Los Angeles; another
nation petal. Later I learned that you increase in our diets, but their aesthetic by the folks at the Chez Panisse restau-
need to first remove the terrible-tasting value as decoration is obvious. rant in Berkeley, California; not to
white part at the base of the petals. In researching this book, I asked mention my own little edible flower
Flowers should become a perma- every gardener, chef, and food expert I gardens.
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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

This harvest of edible flowers {left) is held by Judy Dornstroek. She and her husband grow edible
flowers in their Pennsylvania greenhouse to sell to restaurants. Included are pink rose-scented
geraniums, borage flowers, and nasturtiums of many colors. A harvest from my garden (below,
top) includes broccoli and mustard blossoms, violas, violets, Johnny-jump-ups, the tiny mache
flowers, calendulas, and nasturtiums. Edible flowers also can be used in bouquets. Here is a
striking orange and blue bouquet from my garden {below, bottom) with lots of nasturtiums and
the nonedible bachelor buttons.

If you're still hesitant about j u m p -


ing in and g r o w i n g an edible flower
garden, I urge you to read along for
inspiration. I bet that by the time you
finish the cooking section, the sheer
anticipation of w o r k i n g with flowers
in your kitchen will have you planning
your edible flower garden.

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

8
e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

Edible flowers can be found in all sorts of landscape situations. Chestnut roses (left)
grace a front yard in Jackson, Mississippi. Nasturtiums (above, top) cascade out of a
planter and complement the Spanish architecture in a California garden. In New
Jersey, many varieties of scented geraniums (above, bottom) line a walk at Well-Sweep
Herb Farm.

i
9
how to grow A
ll sorts of plants produce edible
flowers, but it's the annual flow-
ers—those that are seeded, grown, and

edible produce all in just one season, like nas-


turtiums, pansies, and squash blos-

flowers
soms—that people are most familiar
with. The easiest way to obtain edible
flowers is to inventory the plants
already growing in your garden.
First, peruse the Encyclopedia of
Edible Flowers (page 29) to see which
plants produce edible flowers; then
walk around your property to see
which ones you have. Be sure to check
out your vegetable garden too, as some
of those plants produce great flowers.
Then, before you go any further, get
acquainted with the accompanying
poisonous plant list (pages 14-15). To
make sure you properly identify the
flowers, please obtain a couple of basic
field guides to edible plants (see the
Bibliography, page 104). And just to
be safe, you might take a sample of
whatever you are considering eating
to a local nursery for a positive identi-
fication.
Once you have inventoried your
landscape for flowering "delicacies,"
consider adding a few choice perenni-
als, bulbs, shrubs, or trees. Daylilies,
tulips, roses, and apple blossoms, for
example, all have edible flowers.
Because they grow for years—perenni-
ally—such plants need a permanent
My back patio edible flower garden (right) site; consider carefully where to locate
was designed with pink in mind. The
them.
flowers are a combination of annuals and
perennials. A miniature pink rose sits in a Perennials are generally planted
container, and the perennial Alpine from divisions or from grafted plant
strawberries, English daisies, pinks, and
material, depending on the species, and
day lilies fill in most of the bed. I supple-
ment the beds with pansies in the spring they need good soil preparation and
and chrysanthemums in the fall. drainage, though they are usually not

10
h o w to g r o w e d i b l e f l o w e r s

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

as fussy about soil fertility and mois-


ture as annual flowers and vegetables
are. For more information on planting
perennials, see Appendix A, "Planting
and Maintenance" (page 92).
Most of the plants that produce edi-
ble flowers need at least six hours of
sun each day. Add perennial edible
flowers to your landscape easily by
installing a border of lavender plants
along a driveway; putting in a small
sitting area surrounded by daylilies
and chrysanthemums; adding a little
herb corner off the patio planted with

Carole Saville {top) helps plant my nastur-


tium garden. One year, I planted a whole
garden of nasturtiums {below) and trialed a
dozen varieties. Here, Jody Main and Adam
Lane harvest handfuls of blooms from that
garden. The nasturtiums all tasted the same,
but the color variations were fantastic.

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h o w t o g r o w e d i b l e f l o w e r s

All herb flowers {above) are edible. T h e Encyclopedia of Edible Flowers pearance and growing ease. Therefore,
Consequently, an herb garden is a great place
(page 29) details which varieties produce taste as many varieties as possible
to find more flowers for your salad. Here, my
streetside herb border contains nepitella the best edible flowers and provides before you plant. Visit the gardens of
(Italian mint), lavender, and lemon thyme, all information on growing all the plants friends and neighbors and taste a few
herbs that produce flowers. Not all herbs
mentioned—enough to get you started flowers at a time. But beware of poisons!
bloom, however. Included in the bed are varie-
gated oregano and sage, which never produce and give you an idea of how much care Before you start tasting flowers, let
flowers. For a larger selection of edible flow- the plants need. Occasionally you may alone planning your garden, you need
ers, I added blue and yellow violas and pansies
need to consult other books for different a brief lesson on poisonous plants.
to the herb planting.
information—local cultivars or condi-
tions, for example. Be aware that the
sage, chives, fennel, and bee balm; or authors of most of the flower-culture Poisonous Plants

planting more than your usual number books in this country do not anticipate W h a t is poisonous, anyway? W h e n I
of tulips in the fall. If you're feeling a your eating the flowers and therefore began my research I was naive enough
little more ambitious, plant a redbud occasionally recommend pesticides that to assume that I would be able to find
or apple tree to give you privacy from are unsafe for human consumption. a definitive list of poisonous flowering
a neighbor's window. Maybe you've (Nontoxic, organic pest and disease con- plants. N o such luck. There are plenty
always wanted a lilac; now you have trols are given in Appendix B, Pest and of lists of poisonous plants, but none
one more excuse to plant one. By Disease Control, page 99.) that completely resolves the issue of
adding just a few plants here and Unlike vegetable varieties, the flow- what is and is not poisonous. I had to
there, you can add quite a bit to your ers bred at nurseries have been selected do my own legwork, so I began at the
repertoire in the kitchen. not for their flavor but for their ap- beginning, with Webster's Third: poison:

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

"A substance . . . that in suitable quanti- h u m a n s . T h e gray squirrel can safely


ties has properties harmful or fatal to an eat the deadly amanita m u s h r o o m ,
organism when it is brought into contact and birds regularly gorge on the irri-
with or absorbed by the organism." tating red elderberry berries. So don't
So the two crucial factors are chemi- depend on guinea pigs of any species
cal contents and dosage. As to the for- to guide you.
mer, plants containing alkaloids, glyco-
3. N o t all parts of toxic plants are nec-
sides, resins, alcohols, phenols, and
essarily poisonous. For instance,
oxalates are potentially poisonous, but
rhubarb stalks and potatoes are edible,
their toxicity depends on the a m o u n t
but the leaves of both plants are poiso-
of these substances they contain. After
nous.
all, many poisonous plants are also
valuable medicines; it is the dosage that 4. Some plants, such as pokeweed, are
determines whether the end product poisonous only at certain times of the
is medicinal or toxic. In fact, some year.
poisonous-plant lists actually include
5. Because individuals can be allergic
spinach and chard because they contain
to substances that are not generally
oxalic acid, which is poisonous in large
poisonous—wheat and milk, for exam-
quantities.
p l e — w h e n you first taste a new food,
Still, determining how m u c h of a
eat only a small amount.
substance makes a plant or serving
toxic is a matter for chemists. 6. Just because most members of a par-
Obviously, the more you ingest—eat- ticular plant family are not poisonous
ing foxglove ice cream rather than just does not mean that all are.
a single petal on a salad plate—the
7. Heating or cooking in water
greater the hazard. My advice and the
removes many toxins, but not all.
rule I follow is, Don't take chances. If a selves; others will never be detected. For
flowering plant is on any list of poiso- 8. Never use any flower as a garnish if example, some plants contain chemicals
nous plants, I don't eat it—not even a it's not edible. In this day and age, that cause cancer, abortions, or birth
single petal—until I have more infor- when diners eat flowers, you're just defects; others are filled with chemicals
mation. A n d if I can't find the plant on asking for an accidental poisoning. that raise your blood pressure, rob the
any list of edible or poisonous plants, I body of calcium, or tie u p iron.
9. Make sure it's clear to children that
assume it is not edible. Below is a list of a few of the most
some flowers are edible and others can
H e r e are some guidelines I have c o m m o n poisonous plants and the
m a k e t h e m sick.
gathered from food technologists and parts of the plants k n o w n to be dan-
environmental botanists: 10. And a most important point: You gerous.
can cause damage and not even k n o w it.
1. Positively identify the plant—Latin
Because a plant does not make you sick Amaryllis Hippeastrum puniceum: Bulb
n a m e and all. As with mushrooms,
to your stomach or cause your heart to A n e m o n e Anemone tuberosa and other
identification is crucial.
race or make you break out in a rash spp: All

2. Birds and animals are u n h a r m e d by doesn't mean that it's safe. Some toxic A u t u m n Crocus Colchicum autumnale:

some plants that are poisonous to reactions take time to manifest them- All

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h o w t o g r o w e d i b l e f l o w e r s

Azalea Rhododendron spp.: All Datura Datura mete hides: All Most landscapes contain both edible and
Belladonna Lily (Naked Lady) Delphinium Delphinium spp.: All nonedible flowers. It's important for children in
particular to be taught the difference. Here,
Amaryllis belladonna: Bulb Foxglove Digitalis purpurea: All edible roses, society garlic, and nasturtiums
Bird-of-Paradise Strelitzia reginae: Gloriosa Lily Gloriosa spp.: All grow among the nonedible coreopsis and iris.

Seeds and pods Hydrangea Hydrangea spp.: All


Buckeye (Horse Chestnut) Aesculus Iris Iris spp.: Leaves and rootstock
arguta and A. hippocastanum and Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens: All
other spp.: Seeds, flowers, and leaves Lantana Lantana spp.: All Rhododendron Rhododendron spp.: All
Buttercup Ranunculus spp.: All Larkspur Delphinium spp.: All Star-of-Bethlehem Ornithogalum spp.:
Caladium Caladium bicolor and other Lily-of-the-Valley Convallaria majalis: All
spp.: All All Sweet Pea Lathyrus spp.: All
Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis: Lupine Lupinus spp.: All Tansy Tanacetum vulgare: All
Particularly the bulb Monkshood Aconitum spp.: All Wisteria Wisteria floribunda and W.
Clematis Clematis: All Narcissus Narcissus spp.: All sinensis: Pods and seeds
Daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus: Oleander Nerium oleander: All
Particularly the bulb Poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima: All

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my edible I
always have edible flowers growing
in my yard. Some (lavender, daylilies,

flower
and anise hyssop) grow in ornamental
flower borders, others (rosemary and
thyme) are part of my herb corner, and

gardens
still others (squash and broccoli) grow
in the vegetable garden. Sometimes,
though, just for fun I like to try new
edible flower varieties or illustrate how
little room it takes to grow a selection
of flowers for the kitchen, so I grow
tiny gardens of only edible flowers.
It never stops amazing me how lit-
tle space it takes to grow an enormous
n u m b e r and variety of blossoms for the
table. T h e garden illustrated on pages
18-19 was located in my front-yard
vegetable garden and included eleven
species of edible flowers—enough to
m a k e a huge impact in the kitchen. I
chose yellow, orange, and blue flowers.
T h e total area of this little flower gar-
den was six feet by twelve feet with a
two-foot-wide path r u n n i n g through
the middle, or about sixty square feet
of bed space. As it turned out, half that
size would have been plenty.
I live in a mild-winter area, so I
planted my garden in early fall.
Gardeners in U S D A Zones 1 through
8 would plant this type of garden in
the spring, starting many of the plants
in flats six weeks before the average
last frost date. I planted the mizuna,
arugula, nasturtiums, and calendulas
directly in the garden from seeds. T h e
rest of the plants came from a nursery.
My soil is in enviable condition after
twenty years of soil building, so I didn't
My front walk (right) is festooned with edible need to add amendments at planting
flowers, including roses, winter savory, soci-
ety garlic, the species marigolds 'Lemon
time. First, I laid out the beds. Because
Gem,' and 'Empress of India' nasturtiums. they are the tallest, I filled the back

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

One year, I took the middle two beds out of my vegetable garden and row, the north side of the garden {to the left), I planted the tallest plants
planted them primarily with annual edible flowers. In spring, these little so they would not shade the shorter species. The back row contains {top
plots produced enough flowers to decorate a panoply of fancy platters. to bottom) arugula and mizuna (a Japanese mustard). The next row con-
The drawing (above) indicates the location of the plants. In the back tains yellow nasturtiums and a chive plant, orange calendulas, and red

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my e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

and orange nasturtiums. The front row contains yellow and lavender vio- tulips, and the front row was planted with bunching onions, purple vio-
las and 'Antique' mix pansies. Across the path {top to bottom), are las, and more English daisies.
romaine lettuces, yellow violas, white English daisies, Alpine strawber-
ries, and the red lettuce 'Lolla Rossa.' In the middle is a cluster of

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

My little annual edible flower garden (left) in


early spring produced tulips, violas, mustard
flowers, and a few English daisies. A few
weeks later, the same garden was in full
swing (above) and the violas and nastur-
tiums were exuberant, growing in among
each other, as were the chives, pansies, and
calendulas.

row of one bed with arugula and radishes, bush peas, broccoli, and many
mizuna, a Japanese-type mustard. T h e more types of mustard, but I planted ups, and calendulas—all great for sal-
middle row contained nasturtiums and them in the vegetable garden that year ads and garnishes—from early winter
calendulas, which grow to about eigh- because I like to rotate crops. t h r o u g h late spring. O u r frosts
teen inches. In the front row I planted Over the years I have noticed that knocked out my nasturtiums, so I
the shorter pansies, violas, Johnny- the cool-weather edible flowers are the replanted t h e m in early spring. Soon
jump-ups, and chives. In another bed savory ones that are great for salads, the tulips, English daisies, mizuna,
I included strawberries, pansies, appetizers, and garnishes for winter and the arugula came into their glory.
English daisies, and tulips as well as and spring meals. T h e sweet flowers I could n o w m a k e an even greater
half a dozen heads of romaine and on roses, lavender, honeysuckle, and range of appetizers and butters and
frilly red lettuces and a cluster of scented geraniums all bloom in w a r m fancier salads. In the middle of spring
bunching onions—all great for salads. weather. T h a t winter I was able to the nasturtiums kicked in and the
I could have included cilantro, fennel, harvest pansies, violas, Johnny-jump- strawberries started to flower (and

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my e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

kept going through the summer). In primrose yellow nasturtiums, Alpine


late spring the chives came into bloom, strawberries, baby-pink roses, and var-
the English daisies were starting to iegated society garlic. Probably the
dwindle, and the m i z u n a went to seed most dramatic and fun edible flower
and were pulled out. A few weeks garden I ever created was one planted
later I needed to pull out most of the with only nasturtiums—ten different
plants in order to plant s u m m e r veg- varieties, to be exact (see page 12). It
etables. If I had the space to allow was eye-opening to see how many
most of the edible flower plants to go different varieties there were. Some
to seed (as I do some years), the nas- were double, others were bicolored,
turtiums, arugula, Johnny-jump-ups, and still others had green and white
calendulas, and m i z u n a would have foliage. Of course, it produced a "gazil-
reseeded themselves and the next fall lion" nasturtiums, and everyone w h o
very little planting would have been visited left with a big enough bouquet
needed to renew the beds (the straw- to cook with for a week.
berries, chives, and English daisies are
perennials).
I planted another edible flower gar- Many edible flowers will reseed themselves
den off my back patio (see page 11). It like crazy. This little corner of my garden
(below) grows by itself. Every spring it is
had a completely different color scheme:
completely filled with Johnny-jump-ups,
burgundy pansies, pink dianthus, light nasturtiums, mache, and watercress with its
yellow 'Stella de O r o ' dwarf daylilies, edible lacy white blossoms shown on the right.

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e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

The Chez Panisse used in the kitchen before. wanted to evaluate the flowers in the
Flower Garden To begin, we looked over my list of kitchen within a year and because they
edible flowers, perused seed catalogs are easiest for most gardeners to
A number of years ago I invited for unusual varieties, and ordered a obtain. Andrea had been producing
Andrea Crawford, then manager of good selection. Both Andrea and I borage, Johnny-jump-ups, lavender,
the Chez Panisse restaurant garden in gathered information from everyone climbing nasturtiums, violas, mustard,
Berkeley, California, to join me in an we knew who had grown our selec- radishes, chicory, scented geraniums,
experiment: growing a prototypical tions. Jan Blum, of Seeds Blum, sent us and herbs for the restaurant, and she
edible flower garden with which the 'Fragrance' dianthus seeds; Renee chose varieties from among her
chefs could experiment. She and Alice Shepherd, of Renee's Garden, sent us favorites. For years I had been growing
Waters, the executive chef of Chez 'Kablouna' calendula, anise hyssop, scarlet runner beans, English daisies,
Panisse, had been growing and serving and 'Whirlybird' nasturtium seeds; and and marigolds, but I had never tasted
edible flowers for years and were eager we both raided our own supplies of their flowers and was curious about
to learn even more. In this garden we seeds and plants. We concentrated them, so I chose the most promising
grew flowers that none of us had ever mainly on annual flowers because we varieties. I also selected 'Empress of
India' and 'Alaska' nasturtiums, two
particular varieties I had never used in
the kitchen.
Summertime temperatures in
Berkeley are moderated by morning
fog, and few days exceed 90°F. T h e
winters are mild, with temperatures
seldom dropping below freezing.
T h o u g h you might be hesitant at first
about trying to duplicate much of this
garden if you live in a northern region,
almost all the flowers can actually be
grown equally well anywhere in the
country. T h e soil in the Berkeley gar-
den was clay with a tremendous
amount of organic matter added. T h e
beds were in wonderful shape after
years of loving care. Andrea, like most
good gardeners, is passionate about soil
preparation, and her years of effort

Andrea Crawford {left) and Alice Waters com-


pare notes on the edible flowers growing in
the Chez Panisse garden. A harvest of edible
flowers {right) from the Chez Panisse garden
includes hollyhocks, squash blossom, nastur-
tiums, 'Lemon Gem' marigolds, calendulas,
runner beans, and gladiolas.

22
e d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

showed. Her garden received no rain border and a productive garden. We Nasturtiums and daylilies frame a garden
bench.
from May through September, and agreed to try to grow the approximate
summer watering was a constant amounts a home gardener would use.
necessity. "Well," said Andrea, "we planted far
Andrea and I sat down to discuss more than a person could ever use at large number of varieties, but Andrea
both her experiences in the garden and home. In fact, that narrow strip, which found that they often seemed to be out
the chefs' experiences in the kitchen. is thirty feet by two and a half feet, of what she wanted and sent back
She was eager to sum it all up. She produced more than the restaurant credit slips instead of seeds.
reminded me that she and Alice had could use; but we viewed the beds as In the end, the most successful and
been planning a pansy garden for the an ornamental garden that a person versatile edible flowers were the
restaurant and had already planted could also eat out of, and that was species Andrea had always grown for
flats. It had seemed natural to add hol- really very nice." the restaurant—the nasturtiums, bor-
lyhocks, scarlet runner beans, anise Andrea reported that Stokes Seeds age, and calendulas. Of the new flow-
hyssop, 'Austrian Copper' roses, had the best selection and that she ers planted, the pansies—all vari-
'Adnami' chrysanthemums, Alpine could get just about all the varieties she eties—were probably the most useful
strawberries, and 'Lemon Gem' needed from them. Thompson & and were a lot of fun as well. The chefs
marigolds and to make the new, Morgan, on the other hand, turned out used them as garnishes and chopped
expanded garden both an ornamental to be really frustrating. They offered a them into butters. The anise hyssop

24
m y d i b l e f l o w e r g a r d e n s

was very flavorful. T h e runner blos- with them, and they made a soup with flavorings in ice cream. Before making
soms were tasty too—the chefs mixed potatoes and the nasturtiums. the basic custard mix, they steep the
them with other flowers and put them According to Andrea, it was a total petals in milk for as long as it takes to
in salads. "Of the nasturtiums," Andrea flop. "It was really awful," she said. "It flavor it—anywhere from a few hours
told me, "we liked 'Alaska' and had kind of a slimy texture. So we to a day, depending on the intensity
'Empress of India.' T h e flowers of found out that you can't use nastur- they want. T h e n they strain out the
these varieties are similar to those of tiums in great quantities; they have to flowers. They aim to flavor the custard
most other varieties, but the leaves are be used quite sparingly." Their most slightly stronger than they want the
beautiful, and when they are small successful way of using nasturtiums end result, because some of the flavor
they are quite delicious. We hadn't was to chop them and mash the bits gets lost during freezing. T h e most
used those before. With nasturtiums, into butter. T h e butter then looks like successful flower ice cream, and
taste is the most important factor, and it has been laced with confetti, espe- Andrea's personal favorite, is anise hys-
that's affected by how you grow them. cially when borage and pansies are sop, but the chefs have made ice cream
If you start them without much water, chopped up along with the nastur- with everything from rose petals,
they're quite hot to the taste. They tiums, to get blue and purple. "It's very lavender, and almond blossoms to
grow best in really lush conditions, and pretty," said Andrea, "and you can put many of the scented geraniums.
then they're much milder." it on pasta, steak, or toast. Alice "Over the years," Andrea con-
O n the other hand, the hollyhocks [Waters] also found this to be a good cluded, "we've found that you really
were a complete failure—they didn't way to use flowers that have started to have to think about how you use
have much flavor and had a slippery wilt. Squash blossoms, too, are won- flowers. They should enhance the
quality like that of okra. Still, Andrea derful. T h e chefs stuff them with meal, not just be thrown randomly
thought they might be good dipped in cheese, or chop and fry them and serve onto the plate or into the salad. T h e
batter and fried tempura-style. She them over pasta. They also saute them flower garnishes, for instance, need to
went on to say, "Most of the calendulas with vegetables. Squash blossoms are have some relation to the food. So
we tried didn't impress me as much as very versatile and have a pleasant, deli- thyme flowers in a savory soup or
our simple pot marigolds, which self- cate flavor." chive blossoms in a salad instead of
seed right here in the garden. They Chez Panisse chefs use flowers not onion would be great, but just floating
have large flowers and nothing seems only in salads and butter but in many pansies by themselves on a soup doesn't
to affect them. I don't like 'Kablouna,' of their famous desserts. They put make any sense.
because you can't get the petals off the fresh flowers on cakes and souffles or "I would definitely grow all the edi-
tight head easily. And I found Stokes's candy them and use them whole or ble flowers again, even the hollyhocks.
claims about their calendulas—all chopped. T h e sugar makes the flowers They're so beautiful, and it's fun to
these so-called scarlet, gold, and apri- sparkle. "Very pretty on a chocolate share them with your friends. And
cot tones—to be an overstatement. cake," Andrea said. "The chefs sprin- there may be ways to use them that I
T h e differences among them are very kle it on the sides and then, using a just haven't discovered. I think having
subtle." small doily as a stencil over the top, a flower border that's entirely edible is
Andrea told me they did a lot of make a little design all the way around a good enough reason in itself to plant
experimenting with the flowers in the of sparkling, multicolored glitter. This it. People who visit the restaurant are
kitchen. For example, she picked two glitter idea came from using the deli- delighted with the edible flowers. All
deep tubs—that's probably about ten cate candied flowers. It turned out to in all, it seems a great way to combine
gallons— of nasturtium flowers. She be a great way to use the broken ones." the beautiful flowers in the garden
then asked the chefs to get creative T h e chefs love to use the flowers as with what you enjoy on your table."

25
i n t e r v i e w

Alice Waters

A
lice Waters is the proprietor and inspiration plate?" I asked. "The flowers are a fascination,"
behind one of this country's most famous Alice said. "People really focus on them and are
and revolutionary restaurants, Chez Panisse, very curious. Some people refuse to eat them, but
in Berkeley, California. Although I had worked about half will taste them readily. I like to serve
with Alice casually over the years, I never appreci- them in such a way that they're tasty and accessible
ated her vast range of talent and knowledge until I to people; a large flower by itself is a little intimi-
interviewed her specifically about edible flowers. dating. I like to incorporate Johnny-jump-ups or
While other chefs can talk about some of the most nasturtium petals in salads—or serve them in ice
common edible flowers, Alice expounds on many cream or butter."
with an excitement that's infectious. I gave Alice the list of edible flowers I had com-
"How do patrons react to flowers on their piled and asked her to comment on those she had

26
tried. Her face bright- and flavors seem
ened as she perused suspended.
the list; she seemed to "And certainly
be able to replay the we have to talk
tastes and feelings of about roses and vio-
those she had used. lets. Rose petals are
"Calendulas have a fantastic; they have
real nice flavor," she all different flavors,
began. "Not too depending on the
strong, but kind of variety. On one spe-
peppery—even a little cial occasion I used
grassy. I use fresh 'Damask' roses in
petals in salads, or I ice cream and gar-
like to dry them and nished it with deep
use them in soups in red-orange 'Joseph's
the winter. Honey- Coat' rose petals that
suckle is good too," had been dipped in
she continued. "It's egg white and sprin-
very sweet and tastes kled with sugar.
just like it smells; it's Another time I
quite extraordinary in chopped candied
some desserts. You rose petals so they
don't need much of Alice Waters is proprietor of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley and looked like little
it, though, just a little one of the most influential chefs in the world of fresh produce. sparklies—very spe-
spoonful. cial. I find brightly
"Lavender is won- colored varieties
derful. You can use it in both sweet and savory most effective. And we use fragrant violets in late
dishes, as a marinade for meats, or for lavender ice winter; we candy them and then use them to gar-
cream. I'm crazy about nasturtiums too. 'Empress nish sherbets, or we fold fresh violets into ice
of India,' which has a dark red color, has a spicy, cream just before we serve it."
peppery flavor. I enjoy using the 'Alaska' variety in The day I interviewed Alice, a gentleman from
salads because the foliage is so beautiful—variegat- Texas called to find out if Chez Panisse was the
ed green and white. I also use nasturtiums to top restaurant that served edible flowers; he wanted to
soups, salads, or pizzas—for example, smoked come try some. It seems that people are finding
salmon pizza. Just put them on top at the last delight in trying new tastes, and Chez Panisse
minute so they won't wilt. In butters, the colors leads the way.

27
encyclopedia
flowers

T
he following entries detail what I plants were edible. Two other flowers
consider the most versatile edible on that infamous list are stock and
flowers. T h e basic cultural infor- petunias. Although stock was eaten
mation on preparing the soil, planting, during famine in southern Europe, the
seed starting, watering, mulching, fer- question remains, W h y didn't people
tilizing, pruning, and controlling pests eat stock at other times? Does it taste
and diseases are covered in Appendices bad or does it have long-term side
A and B (pages 92-102). effects? According to Craig D r e m a n n
You may notice that a few species of the Redwood City Seed Company,
occasionally sold as "edible" flowers— the Andean Indians used petunias to
bachelor's buttons, impatiens, and induce a feeling of flight during their
snapdragons—are not listed. There is 1980s by a very reputable magazine. religious ceremonies. Not exactly what
no evidence in any of the historical or Upon calling the editor to see where you want to feed your family. I also
scientific literature to indicate that they the author had obtained this informa- omitted primrose. There is an edible
are edible. Why then are they regarded tion, I was shocked to learn that the list primrose, Primula vera, that is popular
as edible? I've been able to trace it all came from a young grower who in England, but it is seldom ever
back to an article published in the late "thought," but had no proof, that these grown in America.

English lavender and 'Alaska' nasturtiums (left) line my front walk. Apple blossoms
(above) are fragrant and tasty spring treats.

29
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

ANISE HYSSOP
Agastache foeniculum
A N E X C E P T I O N IN T H E HERB

world in that it's native to the Western


Hemisphere, anise hyssop is one of the
most flavorful and interesting edible
flowers.

H o w to grow: This highly orna-


mental, easily grown herbaceous
perennial reaches from 3 to 6 feet and
has gray green leaves and striking,
dense 1- to 3-inch flower spikes rang-
ing from lavender to white. It is hardy
to U S D A Zone 4. Start anise hyssop
from seeds or divisions, grow it in full
sun in average soil, and keep it fairly
moist. T h e plant dies down in the win-
ter and often reseeds itself the next
spring. It is bothered by few pests and
diseases. Harvest flowers as they
appear in the summer.

H o w to prepare: T h e young leaves


and tiny petals of the sweet flowers
have a flavor somewhat between anise
and root beer and, if used sparingly,
are very pleasant in both savory and
sweet dishes. Add the petals to melted
butter and serve over grilled mush-
rooms, use them in a beef stir-fry or a
chicken marinade, or include them in a
salad dressing. T h e natural sweetness
and many complex flavors give dimen-
sion to iced drinks, custard, ice cream
and sorbets, and pound cake. A few
dried flower heads in the sugar bowl
adds flavor to sugar for tea or sugar
cookies. See the recipe for Stir-Fried
Beef with Anise Hyssop on page 83.

Anise hyssop

30
a n i s e h y s s o p — a p p l e b l o s s o m s

APPLE
BLOSSOMS
Malus spp.

APPLE TREES PERFUME THE AIR

in spring and glorify the landscape.


Capture their fragrance in your
desserts.

H o w to grow: Most varieties of


apple trees bear light pink to white
flowers in early spring. 'Pink Pearl,' an
old heirloom apple available from a
few specialty fruit tree nurseries, bears
deep pink blossoms. Buy apple trees
bare root in late winter (which is when
the trees are dormant with soil re-
moved from their roots) and consult a
good fruit-growing text for selecting
and planting varieties appropriate for
your area. Remember to keep the blos-
soms free of heavy-duty chemical
sprays.

H o w to prepare: Apple blossoms


have a slightly floral taste; the petals
are lovely in salads, especially a
Waldorf salad, or in a cider vinaigrette.
Infuse the petals in cream for ice cream
or whipped cream to go over an apple
tart. You can also crystallize the petals
and use them to garnish baked apples
drizzled with maple syrup, applesauce,
tarts, fruit soups, and French toast or
crepes filled with caramelized apples.

'Pink Pearl' apple blossoms (top), 'Golden


Delicious' apple blossoms (left), 'Red
Delicious' apple blossoms (right)

31
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

ARABIAN ARUGULA
JASMINE Eruca vesicaria

Jasminum sambac A R U G U L A F L O W E R S ARE N U T T Y


and taste a bit like horseradish. Mellow
JASMINE INVOKES IMAGES of sultry
and delightful, these flowers can be
evenings in faraway places.
used in any dish that calls for arugula.

How to grow: A tender perennial


How to grow: Arugula is grown for
vine native to tropical Asia, Arabian
its leaves; the flowers are a bonus.
jasmine is hardy only in USDA Zone
These cool-weather plants can be
10. In all other areas, it can be grown
enjoyed in early spring and again in
indoors with high humidity in a green-
the fall. The plants are short-lived;
house. There are two Arabian jasmine
they get quite spicy and go to flower
cultivars of merit: 'Grand Duke of
readily in hot weather. Broadcast the
Tuscany,' which has intensely per-
seeds over rich soil in a sunny area and
fumed double flowers and is slow
lightly cover them with soil, or start
growing, and 'Maid of Orleans,' a
them in flats indoors. Keep arugula
bushy, compact plant with semi-
well watered and fertilize lightly.
double-white flowers. They can be
Arugula has few pest and disease prob-
obtained from mail-order nurseries
'Grand Duke of Tuscany' jasmine lems. Harvest individual leaves when
specializing in tropical plants. Outside,
the plants are at least 4 inches tall, and
grow Arabian jasmine in full sun or
the flowers as they appear. Arugula
partial shade in average soil, with aver-
flowers attract beneficial insects, so I
age watering. It is a heavy feeder, so
keep plants blooming for much of the
fertilize with fish emulsion every two
spring. If allowed to go to seed, arugula
weeks during the growing season.
reseeds itself readily in your garden.
When the plants are about to flower,
feed them cottonseed meal or some
How to prepare: Long after the
other form of phosphorus. They grow
leaves have become too strong-tasting
best in temperatures of 60°F at night
to use, the flowers can still be sprinkled
and 80°F during the day. Harvest the
over green or pasta salads, slivered fen-
flowers just as they open.
nel, carpaccio, frittatas, and pizzas;
tucked into sandwiches filled with
How to prepare: Use the flowers to
tomatoes or grilled mushrooms and
infuse simple syrups or impart their
eggplants; minced and added to a soft
lovely perfume to tea. Use the syrup as
cheese; and used to garnish chilled
a wonderful base for sorbets or ice
tomato soup and vegetables prepared
creams or pour it over melons, figs, or
with olive oil and garlic in the Italian
poached pears.
manner.

Arugula flowers

32
a r a b i a n j a s m i n e — a r u g u l a

33
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

BEE B A L M
( M o n a r d a , O s w e g o tea)

Monarda didyma, M. citriodora


B E E B A L M , A L S O C A L L E D monarda,

is an exuberant plant that is native to


eastern North America. In earlier
times Native Americans, and later the
early settlers, used it to make tea.

H o w to grow: Bee balm produces 3-


inch shaggy flowers over much of the
summer. Of all the many varieties, the
red cultivars seem to be the tastiest:
'Cambridge Scarlet,' 'Adam,' and
'Firecracker.' An annual monarda,
'Lamabata,' has lavender flowers and
spicy petals that can be used sparingly
'Lamabata' monarda
in savory dishes, such as a green salad
(above), 'Cambridge
Scarlet' (left and inset) or cream soup, and as a garnish.
Obtain monarda plants from local
nurseries and mail-order firms that
specialize in perennials.
Bee balm is a hardy, easy-to-grow
perennial that can get to 4 feet tall. Start
it with divisions planted in sun or partial
shade, in moist soil. Mildew is a com-
mon problem in many climates. Har-
vest flowers as they appear in summer.

H o w to prepare: T h e flowers of the


red varieties of bee balm have a fairly
strong, spicy, minty taste. They are
most commonly used along with the
leaves to make herbal tea. Add the
petals to teas and salads; sprinkle them
over red snapper or other mild fish;
include them in dishes with apricots,
peaches, and plums; use them in the
punch bowl and in fruit salads or to
garnish cold drinks; or add them to
apple jelly and baked goods such as
pound cake.

34
b e e b a l m — t u b e r o u s b e g o n i a s

TUBEROUS
BEGONIAS
Begonia X tuberhybridia

THESE SHOWY FLOWERS are sensa-


tional in the garden and on the table.

How to grow: Spectacular puffs of


orange, yellow, white, pink, or red,
tuberous begonia flowers range in size
from 2 to 4 inches across. To ensure
safe eating, either grow them without
chemicals or buy chemicals that are
registered for edible plants. In some cli-
mates tuberous begonias are prone to
mildew, but in many cool-summer
areas these plants grow with ease. Start
begonia tubers in flats or pots in the
spring in rich, moist, well-draining pot-
ting soil. When the plants are 3 inches
high, replant them in the garden or in
containers. They need a slightly acidic
soil, filtered sun, and constant moisture
and feeding. Dig up the tubers in late
fall, knock off the dead and dying
stalks, and store the tubers in a cool,
dry, frost-free place. Do not lift the
tubers until the foliage turns yellow.

H o w to prepare: T h e flowers of Tuberous begonias come in a feast of


most tuberous begonias have a deli- colors.

cious, light, lemon taste and a crisp


texture. Taste them before using them
to make sure they are not astringent.
Use sliced petals in salads and tea sand-
wiches. Dip whole petals in flavored
yogurt and serve as an appetizer that is
sure to spark a conversation. Garnish a
fish plate or a fruit or green salad with
begonia petals, or use them as a spec-
tacular garnish on an appetizer platter
for a buffet.

35
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

BORAGE
B orago officinalis

T H I S HERB, NATIVE TO E U R O P E

and Africa, has a slight cucumber fla-


vor. The special blue star-shaped flow-
ers are lovely on salads and in cold
drinks.

How to grow: An easily grown


summer annual that sometimes acts
like a biennial, borage grows to about 2
feet and has hairy gray leaves and half-
inch star-shaped deep blue flowers. Bor-
age is easily started from seeds planted
in average soil and in full sun in the
spring after any threat of frost is over.
Harvest young leaves once the plants
are established, and flowers anytime
they appear. Borage often reseeds itself.

How to prepare: Mix the half-inch


flowers in vegetable and fruit salads,
especially a cucumber or jicama salad,
or use them to garnish cream soups or
to decorate desserts. Freeze them in ice
cubes to float in iced tea. They can also
be crystallized. To make the flowers
edible, remove the hairy sepals using
the following simple procedure. With
your left hand (if you are right-hand-
ed) grasp the stem of the flower. With
your right hand gently pinch the mid-
dle of the star and pull. The flower
(corolla) should separate from the
sepals intact.
Caution: Pregnant and lactating
women should avoid borage flowers, as
more than eight to ten flowers can
cause milk to flow.

Borage flowers (above) are easy to


harvest.
36
b o r a g e — b r o c c o l i

BROCCOLI
Brassica oleracea

BROCCOL RAAB
B. rapa (B. campestris)

T H E R E A R E M A N Y T Y P E S O F broc-

coli: the standard heading types, sprout-


ing broccoli, and broccoli raab—all of
which produce yellow flowers—and a
primitive type with very tiny buds and
white flowers, called sparachetti, in Italy.

H o w to grow: Standard broccoli is


an annual that prefers cool weather.
Plant broccoli in very early spring for
summer bearing, or in the summer or
fall for winter bearing. Plant seeds, or
place transplants in rich soil about two
weeks before the last average frost
date. All broccolis are heavy feeders
that need a consistent supply of water
and nutrients. Flea beetles, imported
cabbageworm, and cutworms may be
problems. Once the primary head is
harvested, most broccoli varieties pro-
duce many smaller heads—the so-
called sprouting broccolis produce side
buds more readily than some of the
modern heading varieties do.

H o w to prepare: Broccoli buds


open up and produce clusters of yellow
or white flowers that have a mild broc-
coli flavor. Incorporate them into hot
pasta with broccoli florets and braised
onions. Sprinkle them whole over
green salads, grated carrot or cucum-
ber salads, cold red pepper soup, gaz-
pacho, black bean soup, and poached
fish. They can also be combined with
'Sparachetti' broccoli flowers (top, seeds are available in Italian grocery stores and
other flowers in a petal confetti. offered by Pagano's Seeds); standard broccoli (bottom)

37
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

CALENDULA flowers as well. For continual blooms,


remove the spent flowers.
Calendula officinalis
H o w to prepare: Calendula petals
C A L E N D U L A , ALSO K N O W N AS
have a slightly tangy, bitter taste; they
pot marigold, was a popular edible
are often used more for their color
flower as far back as ancient Rome,
than for their flavor. T h e varieties
when the peasants used it as a substi-
'Pacific Beauty' and 'Radio' are easier
tute for the very expensive saffron.
to clean than the double varieties. To
H o w to grow: Calendulas are easily prepare calendula flowers, remove the
grown cool-season annuals that do best petals from the 2- or 3-inch-wide heads
in fairly rich, fast-draining soil in full and use them whole or chop them
sun. T h e orange, apricot, cream, or before adding them to cooked dishes
yellow flowers can be single or double. such as soups, souffles, rice dishes,
I think the slightly sticky 2-inch green muffins and biscuits, and omelets and
leaves have a "grassy" aroma. Tall frittatas. Vinegar infused with calen-
varieties such as 'Pacific Beauty' and dula petals and either dill or thyme
'Kablouna' grow to more than 2 feet makes a lovely condiment. Mince the
tall; dwarf varieties such as 'Bon Bon,' petals to incorporate into butters and
'Radio,' and 'Fiesta' grow to 1 foot. soft cheeses. To release the oils and
In cold-winter areas with a short color from the petals most effectively,
spring and fall, plant seeds in flats six include a little oil in the recipe. Whole
weeks before setting the plants outside; petals can be used to garnish salads,
because calendulas can tolerate light soups, frittatas, and rice dishes. Use
frosts, plant calendulas in the fall in dried petals all winter long in soups
mild-winter areas. Most nurseries carry and rice pilaf.
transplants in both the spring and fall.
Space plants about 18 inches apart and
water them in well. To keep them
healthy, keep the soil evenly moist and
watch for slugs and snails. Mildew is a
common problem, especially in warm
weather. T h e dwarf varieties seem to
be more prone to this disease. 'Pacific
Beauty' is one of the older varieties and
often reseeds itself in mild climates.
Other full-size varieties include the
heirloom 'Radio' with its large orange
petals and the double-petaled 'Kablouna' calendulas with frost on the
'Kablouna.' Two dwarf varieties, flowers
'Fiesta' and 'Bon Bon,' have double
'Pacific Beauty' calendula flower (top),
'Bon Bon' calendula (middle), 'Pacific flowers in a mix of yellow, cream, and
Beauty' plants with rosemary (bottom) orange. Calendulas make great cut
38
c a l e n d u l a — c h a m o m i l e

CHAMOMILE prepared soil, in full sun. Keep them German chamomile

fairly moist. Perennial chamomile can


Chamaemelum nobile, be grown from transplants from the
Matricaria recutita nursery. It is hardy to U S D A Zone 4.
Both chamomiles are quite free of most
T H E R E ARE T W O KINDS OF
pests and diseases.
chamomile—the perennial type, which
is low growing and moderately hardy,
and an annual chamomile, which is a H o w to prepare: Most cooks prefer
lovely short-lived garden flower. the flavor of the annual chamomile.
T h e perennial is most often used medi-
H o w to grow: T h e annual cinally. Use the flower heads fresh or
chamomile, sometimes called German dried in herbal teas served either hot or
chamomile, grows to about 18 inches iced. Combine the chamomile flowers
and produces a cloud of small white with other herbs such as lemon verbe-
daisies. It has a sweeter taste and is less na, roselle, and mint to make a more
medicinal tasting. Many people feel complex tea. Sprinkle the petals over
that its flowers make a better tea than salads, especially ones containing
those from the perennial chamomile. apples—the chamomile brings out
Start both types from seeds in well- their taste.

39
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

C H I V E S AND
SOCIETY GARLIC
Allium spp v and
Tulbaghia violacea

H E R B S O P H I S T I C A T E S AS W E L L AS

beginners enjoy chives. T h e blossoms


can be used in just about any dish that
calls for onions. A chive relative, soci-
ety garlic grows in tufts of flat leaves
and produces heads of lavender flowers
that have a pronounced garlic flavor.

H o w to grow: T h e r e are two types


of culinary chives: A. schoenoprasum,
sometimes called onion chives, has a
mild onion flavor, tubular grasslike
leaves to 18 inches high, and globe-
shaped lavender flowers; A. tuberosum,
Oriental or garlic chives, is a distant
relative and has an onion/garlic flavor,
flat leaves to 2 feet tall, and white star-
shaped flowers. T h e common variety
of Oriental chives blooms only once a
Chives growing along a walk (top left),
year, producing small buds. One type
and a detail of chive flower (left); Oriental
of garlic chives called Chinese leek has chives (top), and a detail of the society
been bred for its flower buds, which garlic flower (bottom)
are favored in China. Its seeds are to rich, well-drained, moist soil. They Oriental chives and the standard
available from Evergreen Y. H . Enter- are best planted in the spring; obtain society garlic, being taller, look best
prises. Both types of chives are peren- divisions, purchase transplants, or interplanted a m o n g other herbs and
nial plants hardy to U S D A Zone 3. grow them from seeds. Richters Herb flowers or in stand-alone beds or in
Society garlic is a graceful plant that Catalogue carries a variety of onion containers.
is used in mild-winter areas in herb chives. One, 'Profusion,' is bred for its To keep chives growing well, apply
gardens and as a low-maintenance, flowers, which remain edible for an nitrogen fertilizer in the spring or if
drought- and heat-tolerant ornamen- extended time because they don't set the leaves yellow. In rainy areas sup-
tal. Hardy to 20°F, the plants have gray seeds. (Once mature, the seed capsules plemental watering is seldom needed.
green straplike leaves and produce 2- produced by most varieties make the Pests, except for occasional aphids, and
foot-tall flower stalks. A silver-and- flowers feel papery in your mouth.) diseases are few and far between.
white variegated form is more compact Plant onion chives and the varie- C o m m o n chives bloom in early sum-
and is slow growing. gated society garlic in the front of, or mer; most Oriental chives bloom in
Chives and society garlic need at as a border to, your herb or flower early fall. T h e Chinese leeks bloom at
least six hours of sun a day and average beds and in the vegetable garden. least twice throughout the spring and
40
c h i v e s — c h r y s a n t h e m u m s

summer. Society garlic blooms from


late spring to late fall.
Cut back chive plants after they
flower, to renew the plant and prevent
them from reseeding and becoming a
nuisance. Society garlic looks best if
the dead flower stalks are removed
every month or so. To keep them
healthy, divide your plants every three
or four years.

H o w to prepare: Common chive


blossoms are among the most versatile
edible flowers, tasting as they do of
CHRYSANTHEMUMS
sweet onions. Harvest the flowers just Chrysanthemum X morifolium,
after they open, as the petals of the Dendranthema X Grandiflora
onion chives are pleasantly crunchy
BLOOMING CHRYSANTHEMUMS
when young, but fibrous when mature.
are a sign of fall, but few folks think
Pull apart all chive florets and sprinkle
to bring their harvest colors to the
them as you would the leaves. Use the
table.
flowers in salads, sauces, or dips; make
chive blossom butter to melt over veg-
H o w to grow: Chrysanthemums
etables; and combine the flowers with
are perennial plants whose flowers
sour cream, and cream or goat cheeses.
come in nearly every color of the rain-
Add chive florets to herbal vinegars.
bow (except blue and a true pink or
Shower them over a tomato cream
red) and range in size from 1 to 5
soup or vichyssoise, add them to a
inches across. Buy plants in the spring
chicken stir-fry, and use them in Standard chrysanthemums (top); 'Garland'
from a local nursery and plant them in or 'shungiku' chrysanthemums {bottom)
stuffed eggs and omelets. Chinese leeks
the garden or in containers in good
are generally blanched in the garden
soil, in full sun. To avoid spindly are usually grown with chemicals that
by cutting them to the ground and
plants, pinch them back frequently are not allowed on food by the U S D A .
covering them to exclude the light for
until late summer to encourage
a few weeks—the resulting tender yel-
branching. Water during dry weather. H o w to prepare: Chrysanthemum
low stalks and buds are eaten as a stir-
Aphids are an occasional problem. petals have a mild to strong bitter taste,
fry vegetable. Society garlic flowers are
Garland chrysanthemum (shungiku depending on the variety. Use the
compatible with most recipes that use
greens) are grown for their greens in petals in salads and tea or sprinkle
garlic or onion. They are popular flow-
Asia and produce 1-inch yellow flow- them over clear soups. T h e varieties
ers in California wine country cuisine,
ers with short petals. with large, open petals are the easiest
where they are commonly added to
to work with. Use the petals to garnish
salads, used as garnishes, and are spec-
Caution: Avoid nursery-grown or stir-fries and one-pot dishes.
tacular folded into a hot pasta dish.
florist chrysanthemums because they

41
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

leaves is best planted in the fall in all


CITRUS
climates. In cold-winter areas the seeds
sprout the next spring after the ground BLOSSOMS
thaws, and in mild-winter areas the (Lemon and orange)
plants grow lush and tall over the win-
Citrus limonia and C. sinensis
ter but generally do not bloom until
spring. (Cilantro tolerates light frosts.) T H E SCENT OF CITRUS BLOSSOMS

Gardeners in short-spring areas should is breathtaking; being able to bring it

start with early plantings; the plants to the table is a bonus.

usually go to flower within 60 days.


Plant cilantro seeds JA inch deep in H o w to grow: Lemons and oranges

rich, light soil and in full sun. T h i n are evergreen shrubs or trees that

them to 6 inches apart. Keep the plants bloom at different times depending on

moist to ensure lush growth. Harvest


the leaves once the plants are 6 inches
tall. Fertilize only if the plants get pale.

Cilantro Cilantro has few pests and diseases.


Cilantro flowers, tiny flat sprays of

CILANTRO white petals, are produced in profusion


in the spring and summer. Not only
(Fresh coriander) are they edible, but they are great for
attracting beneficial insects to your
Coriandrum sativum
garden. Harvest them anytime they
T H E P U N G E N T HERB CILANTRO
appear.
looks a bit like parsley but tastes very
different. Some people strongly dislike
H o w to prepare: Cilantro leaves and
the earthy flavor of the leaves and
flowers are almost always used raw, as
flowers, but others crave it. Known in
the flavor fades quickly when cooked.
the Americas as cilantro, or even
Use whole flower heads as a garnish
Chinese parsley, in the Orient this herb
for green and savory vegetable salads
is referred to as coriander.
and on cumin-sprinkled grilled
Because the plants go to flower so
chicken and fancy Southwestern spicy
quickly, using the flowers is a way to
dishes. To incorporate the flowers into
extend the season.
a dish, remove the small florets from
the stems, which tend to be fairly
H o w to grow: This easily grown
tough. Chop the florets and add them
annual herb does best in cool weather.
sparingly to salads, quesadillas, coconut
It goes to flower readily when the days
curries, stir-fries, and refried beans or
start to lengthen in the spring and in
fold them into cooked vegetable dishes
warm weather. Most gardeners grow
and salsa.
cilantro for its leaves; the flowers are
Close-up of a lemon blossom (top);
just a bonus. Cilantro grown for its
orange blossoms (bottom)

42
c i l a n t r o — d a y l i l i e s

the variety. Obtain plants from local


DAYLILIES buds have long been used in Chinese
nurseries or by mailorder from Logee's stir-fries and Japanese tempura. Called
Hemerocallis spp.
Greenhouses (see Resources, page 103). golden needles, the buds are tradition-
Plant trees in the spring in rich, well- C H E E R F U L DAYLILIES PRODUCE ally chosen the day before they open
drained soil or in containers. Keep the flowers that bloom for only one day— for hot and sour soups. T h e buds taste
plants well watered and fertilize them hence the name. Asians have enjoyed like a cross between asparagus and
with citrus fertilizer. Gardeners in the blossoms for centuries. green beans. They can also be sauteed
U S D A Zones 3 through 8 can grow or baked. Sliced daylily petals are used
H o w to grow: Daylilies come in all
citrus plants in a cool greenhouse in in salads and soups; once the stamens
colors (except pure white and blue),
the winter and then move the plants and pistils are removed, the whole
including multicolor and single-color
outdoors in the summer. Spider mites flower can be stuffed with cheese or
yellow, orange, and bronze; range in
and scale are occasional problems. bread crumbs and sauteed, or used for
length from 2 to 5 inches long; and
a fancy wine-glass presentation of ice
grow from 18 inches to 3 feet tall. These
H o w to prepare: Many varieties of cream or sorbet. T h e sweet varieties
wonderful plants, particularly some of
oranges have a very strong rindlike make a tasty sorbet.
the older varieties, are hardy perennials
taste, but others are wonderful in
that just want to grow. Buy plants from
syrups or jams and as a garnish. Taste
local nurseries and mail-order firms.
a few petals before you decide how to
Although you can use all varieties, the
use them. Lemon blossoms vary too.
lighter-colored ones tend to be less
Some varieties have a strong rind taste;
astringent. Give all daylilies good soil in
others, such as 'Meyer,' have a pleasant
either light shade or full sun. Fertilize
lemon taste. Use the petals to flavor
occasionally and keep fairly moist.
whipped cream, ice cream, puddings,
and lemonade—even vodka. Sprinkle
H o w to prepare: T h e taste of daylily
these cream-colored petals on fruit
petals ranges from sweet floral to
salads and soups and incorporate them
slightly metallic; be sure to taste them
into a beurre blanc for fish and
before using them in a recipe. T h e
chicken. Use them to garnish a pork
tenderloin or duck breast served with
caramelized onions or over lemon-
filled blintzes. If you want to candy
whole citrus blossoms, a mixture of
confectioner's sugar and egg whites
hides the brown tinge of the petals
when it dries. Apply this mix lightly
and evenly and paint toward the center
of the blossom, as the petals come off
very easily (see "Candied Flowers,"
page 72).

Daylily flower (top); daylily plants in bloom (bottom)

43
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

Dill flowers close up (left), dill growing with parsley and Johnny-jump-ups (center), and flowering elderberry (right)

DILL sauces; and with mild soft cheeses. Use in out-of-the-way areas because the
the whole flower heads in jars of berries are messy, and the plants can
Anethum graveolens
cucumber, snap bean, and beet pickles get quite large, up to 10 feet wide. T h e
D I L L IS M O S T F A M O U S I N pickles, or to add a decorative touch in a bottle plants grow best where the winters are
but the young leaves, florets, and seeds of herb-flavored vinegar. cold. They need full sun, good soil, and
can be used in a variety of dishes. severe annual pruning.

H o w to grow: Start these annual H o w to prepare: T h e cream-colored


plants in the spring from seeds after elderberry blossoms grow in large clus-
the weather has warmed up. Plant
ELDERBERRY ters. Use only the florets, as all other
them in full sun, in well-drained, fer- FLOWERS parts of the plants, including the stems,
tile soil. These ferny plants grow to 3 are poisonous. T h e most popular
Sambucus canadensis, S.
feet and produce flat sprays of yellow recipe for elderberry flowers is to dip
flowers when the plants are a few
caerulea the florets in a batter and cook them as
months old. Keep dill moist through- T H E S E EASILY G R O W N SHRUBS fritters. T h e petals can also be added to
out the growing season and harvest bloom in late spring with showy, fra- jams and jellies. Dried blossoms can be
leaves as soon as the plants get 4 inches grant white flowers. used for either hot or cold tea.
tall. Harvest flowers when they appear
and use them before the florets start to Caution: Be sure to get the cultivated
turn brown. edible varieties, as some of the wild,
red-berried varieties are poisonous.
H o w to prepare: Break up the
flower heads and use them in salads H o w to grow: Elderberries are
and omelets; sprinkled over vegetable easily grown deciduous shrubs that are
dishes, especially those with spinach, available from local nurseries or fruit
carrots, beets, and potatoes; in fish tree specialists. It's best to plant them

44
d i l l — e n g l i s h d a i s y

ENGLISH DAISY more like biennials in mild climates English daisies

and are treated as annuals in cold cli-


Bellis perennis
mates. Seldom exceeding 6 inches in
YOU STILL FIND THE ORIGINAL height and growing from a central frost date. English daisies bloom in the
English daisies growing in lawns in cluster, they thrive in full sun, moist spring and early summer and combine
mild-winter areas. T h e ones sold in soil, and temperate climates, where, if well in flower beds with tulips, pansies,
nurseries with pink, red, or white dou- the spent heads are kept trimmed, and violas—all edible flowers.
ble flowers are horticultural varieties they bloom again in early fall. In mild-
that have been selected over the years winter areas sow the seeds directly in H o w to prepare: T h e petals of the
for larger and fuller flowers. late summer, or set out plants in late English daisy have a slightly bitter fla-
winter. In cold-winter climates start vor and are most commonly used as a
H o w to grow: English daisies are the seeds indoors midwinter and move garnish sprinkled on salads, soups, and
technically perennials, but they act plants outside after your last expected steamed vegetables.
45
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

Green fennel (left); Bronze fennel plants in bloom (right) at Well Sweep farm in New Jersey

FENNEL HONEYSUCKLE become an invasive pest in many parts


of the country. Instead, I suggest that
Foeniculurn vulgare Lonicera japonica
you seek out a plant and ask the owner
T H I S H E R B H A S B E A U T I F U L ferny JAPANESE HONEYSUCKLE was if you may harvest some flowers. T h e
foliage and lovely yellow flowers that probably one of the few flowers we yellow to buff flowers bloom in late
closely resemble dill. grew up eating. Remember when we spring and sporadically throughout the
would pull the flowers off the vine and summer.
H o w to grow: T h o u g h a perennial, suck the sweet juice from the bottom
fennel is usually grown as you would of the flower? H o w to prepare: T h e flavor of hon-

dill (see above). There are both green eysuckle is but a distillation of its per-

and bronze types. Both grow in a simi- Caution: Only the Japanese species fume, plus a little sweetness. Infuse the

lar manner. Cut back the plants in the of honeysuckle is documented as being flowers by themselves or in combina-

spring to keep them looking trim. edible. tion with strawberries to make a sor-

Keep the seed heads removed, as fen- bet, or steep them to make a hot tea.

nel reseeds itself and becomes a weed H o w to grow: N o one should be Use the whole flowers to garnish a

in many parts of the country. Fennel is encouraged to plant Japanese honey- fruit salad.

a favorite food of the swallowtail but- suckle, because this huge vine has

terfly larvae.

H o w to prepare: Use the florets to


garnish dishes made with fennel; over
broiled fish; in a remoulade; and
chopped and added to potato, tomato,
beet, and artichoke dishes.

Japanese honeysuckle flowers

46
r e n n e l — l a v e n d e r

LAVENDER
( E n g l i s h or F r e n c h )

Lavandula angustifolia
(officinalis)

T H E S C E N T O F L A V E N D E R IS

among the most treasured in the


Western world. Few folks think of
feasting on the flowers, and thus they
miss the opportunity to enjoy lavender
to a fuller extent.

H o w to grow: Lavender plants


grow to 3 feet and are hardy to U S D A
Zone 5. T h e foliage of most lavenders
is gray, and the flowers lavender. Start
lavender from cuttings or transplants
'Munstead' lavender
and plant it in full sun. One variety,
'Lady,' starts readily from seeds and,
unlike most lavenders, blooms the first
year. Watering is usually needed only H o w to prepare: With the strong
in arid climates and when the plant is lemon-perfume taste of the petals of its
grown in containers, and then only 2-inch flower heads, lavender is one of
when the soil is fairly dry. Shear back the most useful culinary flowers.
the plants after they bloom. Like most Leaves and flower heads can be
Mediterranean herbs, lavender does steeped for making jellies, sorbets,
poorly in heavy or poorly drained soil caramel custard, and ice cream. Use
and succumbs to root rot readily. In the flowers to flavor a simple syrup
hot weather, lavender occasionally that can be drizzled over poached
becomes infested with spider mites. pears or an almond tart. Lavender can
Lavender flowers can be used fresh be used in lemonade and vinegars and
or dried. W h e n using them fresh, cut to flavor sugar, which can then be used
the flower stalks and remove the tiny for sweetening teas or to make short-
flowers by hand. To harvest them for bread or sugar cookies. (See recipe,
drying, cut the flower stalks just as page 90.) Traditionally lavender buds
they start to bloom and hang them are one of the many flavorings of 'Dwarf English lavender
upside down in a warm dark place. herbes de Provence.
Remove the tiny dry flowers as you
need them or take them off the stems
and store them in a tightly covered
container.

47
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

LILACS MARIGOLDS
Syringa vulgaris Tagetes

L I L A C S MARK MANY A PROPERTY SOME MARIGOLD FLOWERS can be


line in this country, and most of us rather smelly and unappetizing, but a
cherish the thought of their lovely per- few varieties have a pleasant citrus
fume. flavor.

H o w to grow: Lilacs are large H o w to grow: Marigolds are sum-


deciduous shrubs that bloom with mer annuals that are easily grown
lavender or white flowers in the spring when given fast-draining, fairly rich
in cold-winter areas. Lilacs grow soil and full sun. I find 'Lemon Gem'
poorly in warm-winter areas. and 'Tangerine G e m ' to be the tastiest
Buy plants from a nursery or order varieties. These flavorful marigolds
special varieties from mail-order firms. produce clouds of V2-inch flowers.
If possible, taste the variety before There are also some light-colored vari-
Lilac
planting it since not all lilacs have a eties; 'French Vanilla' and 'Aurora
pleasant floral taste. Plant lilacs in neu- Light Yellow' have a mild flavor, and
tral, fast-draining soil in a sunny loca- the petals are useful as a garnish and in
tion. Prune the lilac after it blooms by a petal confetti. Because these varieties
removing the spent flowers and shap- are often not sold in local nurseries,
ing the shrub to keep it blooming and you usually have to order seeds and
looking trim. To renew the plant, start the plants yourself. Start seeds
every few years cut some of the oldest inside in the spring and transplant
stems almost to the ground and them after any threat of frost is over,
shorten some of the longest, lanky placing them about 1 foot apart. Keep
growth back to a strong horizontal the plants fairly moist and mulch to
branch. Apply a mulch of rotted keep them healthy. T h e plants will
manure every two years in the fall. produce flowers until the fall. Young
Stem borers, leaf miners, and mildew marigolds are a delicacy to slugs and
are common problems. snails, leaf miners sometimes tunnel
through the foliage, and spider mites
H o w to prepare: Pick the flower are sometimes a problem in hot
heads soon after they open. Remove weather.
Marigold 'Lemon Gem'
the individual florets and add them to
soft cheeses or frozen yogurt or use H o w to prepare: Use marigold
them to garnish all sorts of sweet flowers sparingly in salads and as gar-
dishes, such as a plate of cookies, cakes, nishes. Use the more flavorful 'Gem'
and scones. varieties in deviled eggs, in marigold
butter, sprinkled over broccoli and
other assertive vegetables.

48
l i l a c s — m u s t a r d

MUSTARD
Mustard field in Germany (above) and
mustard flower (right)

(India Mustard)

JAPANESE RED H o w to prepare: Mustard flowers


MUSTARD, add a little bite to a mixed salad. Use

SPINACH MUSTARD them sparingly in salads or sprinkle


them on cream soups, in butters, and
Brassica juncea, B. spp.
in dishes where broccoli flowers would
A NUMBER OF GREENS referred to be appropriate. Combine them in a
as mustards produce flowers that are salad dressed with a cider vinaigrette
edible and have a slight mustard taste. or use them in a remoulade. To bring
out their flavor, add a little prepared
H o w to grow: Mustards are cool- mustard to the salad dressing.
season crops grown like broccoli (see
above). Plant seeds in early spring in
full sun, in rich, fertile loam. Thin to 1
foot apart. All mustards are members
of the cabbage family and may occa-
sionally be plagued by the same pests.
T h e leaves may be harvested as needed
before the plant is left to flower.

49
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

NASTURTIUMS
Tropaeolum majus

C H E E R Y A N D P U N G E N T , nastur-

tiums are among my favorite edible


flowers. In fact, I've grown whole gar-
dens filled with just nasturtiums.

H o w to grow: There are almost a


dozen varieties of nasturtium on the
market, but local nurseries usually
carry only a few. Consider starting
your own, as they grow best from seeds
started directly in the garden. If you've
never started flowers from seeds, nas-
turtiums are a great way to start, even green leaves and double flowers of A section of my nasturtium garden
{top left), 'Strawberries and Cream'
for children. T h e select varieties cream, deep red, apricot, and yellow
nasturtiums {top right), 'Empress of India'
include 'Alaska,' with green-and-white that have no spur at the back of the nasturtiums {bottom)
foliage and flowers of yellow, cream, flower. These are all dwarf varieties
maroon, and orange; 'Empress of that grow to about 1 foot high. There deep in lean to average soil with good
India,' with deep red orange flowers is also a large climbing mix that sprawls drainage. In cool-weather areas plant
and dark blue green leaves; 'Straw- to 10 feet; it is sold as "climbing nastur- them in full sun, but provide some
berries and Cream,' compact plants tium" and comes in a mix of colors. afternoon shade in hot climates. Keep
with green leaves, cream flowers, and a About the date of your last expected the seed bed moist. Make sure the
red throat; and 'Whirlybird,' with frost in the spring, plant seeds V2 inch plants don't dry out and watch for

50
n a s t u r t i u m s

occasional aphids. Nasturtiums have a


few quirks: they produce lots of flow-
ers in lean soil and few in rich soil, and
they reseed themselves heavily under
favorable conditions.

How to prepare: T h e flowers,


leaves, and seed pods of nasturtiums
are all edible. T h e tangy flavor is mus-
tardlike, with an added perfume and
sweetness. Harvest the flowers just as
they open. I prefer to use small leaves
whole and the flowers with their petals
removed, but occasionally I serve the
flowers whole. They're entirely edible,
just a little large. Both the leaves and
the flowers are great minced and
incorporated into butters and soft
cheeses and used to flavor oils, dress-
ings and vinegars, and cucumber sand-
wiches. T h e petals can be sprinkled
over a green salad and used as a gar-
nish for salads and buffet platters.
Stuff whole flowers with flavored soft
cheeses or guacamole. It is easier to eat
the stuffed blossom on a piece of melba
toast or a slice of cucumber or jicama,
especially at a buffet table. To temper
nasturtiums' bite, add honey or fruit
juice to a dressing. T h e immature seed
heads can be pickled and used as you
would capers in salads and on pizza.

A mix of nasturtium varieties (top);


'Whirlybird' nasturtium (bottom)
51
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

PEAS PINEAPPLE
Pisutn sativum
GUAVA
P E A F L O W E R S ARE SCULPTURAL Feijoa sellowiana
and taste like the freshest of peas.
T H E SUCCULENT PETALS OF

pineapple guavas growing in my yard


Caution: D o not confuse edible pea
have won many an edible flower
blossoms with sweet peas, which are
convert.
poisonous.

H o w to grow: Pineapple guava is a


H o w to grow: Peas are cool-season
evergreen shrub that is native to South
annuals that grow on either bushy
America and is hardy to about 20°F. In
plants or tall vines. All edible peas have
colder climates the plants can be grown
tasty edible blossoms. Most varieties
in large containers outside in the sum-
have white flowers, but a few edible
mer, to be brought in to a cool green-
pea varieties produce purple flowers,
house in the winter. Plant these guavas
including 'Dwarf Gray Sugar.' Start
in rich, well-drained soil, in full sun or
peas as soon as the soil can be worked
light shade and water them moder-
in the spring in rich, fast-draining soil
ately. They bloom in late spring,
in a sunny part of the garden. Plant the
bearing flowers with big tufts of red
seeds xli inch deep, 2 inches apart. Give
stamens and five fleshy white petals.
the vining peas a trellis at planting
T h e variety that is generally available
time. T h i n the plants to 6 inches apart
is 'Pineapple Gem.' Squirrels and some
and keep them moist at all times. Pea
birds feast on the petals, so I cover a
plants are prone to a number of dis-
few branches with bird netting.
eases, and the seedlings are attacked by
Flowers left to develop produce juicy,
slugs, snails, and birds. Harvest some
tangy gray green fruit about 2 inches
of the flowers as they appear, but don't
long in midsummer.
take too many, or you will cut down on
your pea production.
H o w to prepare: T h e flowers of the
pineapple guava have a sweet and
H o w to prepare: T h e flowers of
tropical-guava flavor. T h e only part of
some varieties have a "grassy" flavor;
the flower that is eaten, the petals are
others have a mild, sweet, floral taste.
delicious used as a garnish to a tropical
Sprinkle them over a lobster bisque for
fruit salad or cold drinks, eaten with
a special garnish. Use them in a mixed
avocados, and added to tropical jellies
or baby greens salad or as a garnish, or
and fruit salsas.
candy them to make some extremely
pretty candied flowers great for salmon
canapes or even a wedding cake.
'Dwarf Gray Sugar' pea blossoms (top),
'Tall Telephone' blossoms (middle), a
pineapple guava flower (bottom)

52
p e a s — r a d i s n e s

PINKS RADISHES
Dianthus spp. Raphanus sativus

P I N K S WERE POPULAR IN OUR R A D I S H F L O W E R S C O M E in pink,

grandmother's day and often lined a lavender, and white. They are pro-
front walk or flower bed. duced when the plants are allowed to
bolt but before they go to seed, a fre-
H o w to grow: T h o u g h called pinks, quent occurrence since the plants are
dianthus has pink, rose, white, or red so short-lived.
flowers. Pinks are easily grown peren-
nials that are at home in a rock garden H o w to grow: Obviously, the point
or flower border. They are hardy, and of growing radishes is to produce the
some varieties bloom most of the sum- roots; the flowers are just a bonus. Sow
mer. They grow best in full sun, in seeds directly in the garden after the
rich, well-drained soil. Start them last frost, or sow them in early fall.
from seeds or divisions, or buy plants Radishes prefer cool weather. Plant
from the nursery. T h e best-tasting ones seeds V2 inch deep, and thin to 2 inches
are the small, fragrant clove pinks, D. apart. T h e soil should be light and
caryophyllus, or cottage pinks, D. well drained. Keep the young radishes
plumarius. constantly moist. Most varieties are
ready in a month and bloom a few
H o w to prepare: Pinks have a pleas- weeks later. In some areas of the coun-
ant spicy, floral, clovelike taste. T h e 1- try radishes are bothered by root mag-
to 2-inch blossoms can be steeped in gots. Flea beetles can also be a consid-
wine; made into syrup, sorbets, or cus- erable problem.
tard; chopped and mixed into butter;
and used to garnish cakes, salads, H o w to prepare: Harvest the small
soups, and the punch bowl. Taste your flower spikes and put them in water
flowers first: sometimes the white base until you are ready to serve them.
of the petals is bitter. If so, remove it. Remove the individual flowers from
the stems and sprinkle them over a
salad or over cooked vegetables.
Radish flowers can be used in the same
way as broccoli and mustard flowers
(see above). In addition, use them in a
salad of julienned daikon to enhance
the flavor and give color.

Dianthus 'Horatio' (top), Cottage pinks


(middle); radish flowers (bottom) are not
only tasty, they attract beneficial insetcs
such as this syphid fly

53
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

inside for the winter. Most varieties


produce a profusion of light blue flow-
ers in the spring, but other colors
include light blue, deep blue, lavender,
pink, and white.
T h e standard culinary rosemary has
light blue flowers, as does 'Arp,' which
is reputed to be the hardiest variety, to
10°F; 'Irene' and 'Tuscan Blue' have
dark blue flowers; and 'Majorca Pink'
has pink ones. You can purchase the
unusual varieties from specialty herb
nurseries.
Gardeners everywhere have trouble

Redbud (left) and Rosemary Tuscan Blue' (right) with root rot if the drainage is poor,
and spider mites are occasionally a
problem in hot weather or when rose-
REDBUD H o w to prepare: Redbud flowers
mary is grown inside. Gardeners in the
can be picked either as buds or when
(Judas T r e e ) South may have problems with nema-
in full flower. They have long been
Cercis canadensis, todes. Harvest the flowering stems or
popular in Italy. Buds can be pickled in
individual flowers.
Cercis siliquastrum vinegar, like capers. Make the flower
clusters into fritters and fry them in
R E D B U D S ARE LOVELY SMALL H o w to prepare: T h e small and
batter. They also add a pleasant crunch
trees with spectacular magenta flowers slightly resinous flowers make a lovely
to salads or can be used as a garnish for
in the spring and rounded, gray green confetti to sprinkle over salads and
cooked vegetables. T h e flavor is a cross
leaves throughout the summer. vegetable dishes. Rosemary flowers are
between green beans and a tart apple.
compatible with many dishes contain-
H o w to grow: Redbuds bloom in ing pork, duck, and lamb and can be
early spring. Plant them in full sun or sprinkled over salmon, scallops, and
partial shade, in sandy loam. They swordfish; included in a pilaf; added to
grow well under larger trees in a
ROSEMARY a butter sauce to dress grilled eggplants
woodland garden and in cold climates, and mushrooms; or used on top of
Rosmarinus officinalis
as they need some winter chill to roasted potatoes. T h e flowers can also
flower profusely. Redbuds are available R O S E M A R Y IS A P U N G E N T , be added to herb vinegars. Whole
from local nurseries. Varieties to look resinous herb native to the flowering stems can be used to garnish
for include 'Flame,' which has double Mediterranean. a buffet platter.
pink flowers; 'Rubye Atkinson,' with
its pure pink flowers; and 'Silver H o w to grow: A tender perennial,
Cloud,' which has marbled foliage. rosemary needs full sun and fast-
Harvest the flower spikes and break draining soil. In U S D A Zones 8 and
off the small flowers before serving. colder, it is usually grown as an annual
or planted in containers and brought

54
r e O D u d — r o s e s

ROSES
Rosa spp.

Rose flowers have been used in cook-


ing since ancient times in both Europe
and Asia.

H o w to grow: Rose flowers come in


a range of colors, from red through
yellow. All are edible, but the heir-
looms such as Rosa gallica, the gallicas;
R. moschata, the musk roses; R. cen-
tifolia, the centifolia or cabbage roses;
and R.. damascena, the damask roses,
are usually the most hardy, disease
resistant, and fragrant; thus they are
usually the most flavorful. Most of
these heirloom roses grow to be very
large plants and, with few exceptions,
bloom only in the spring.
Other roses you might choose from
include 'Cecile Briinner,' a small, pink
sweetheart rose; 'Zephirine Drouhin,'
a very fragrant, bright pink rose;
'Austrian Copper,' a deep-orange sin-
gle rose; 'Eglantine,' a small, deep pink
rose that smells like apples; 'Belinda,' a
small, deep pink rose particularly good
for candying whole; Rugosa alba, a
hardy, lovely, fragrant white single
flower that's one of the tastiest and best
for sorbet. All are quite disease resis-
tant and need little spraying in most
climates. Again, most bloom only once
in the spring, though a few give a
sparse bloom in late summer. Other
roses that have little fragrance but are
lovely for garnishing include 'The

Roses, clockwise from top: 'Perfect


Moment,' an old moss rose, Iceberg,'
Luther Burbank's rose, the deep orange
'Austrian Copper,' and 'Graham Thomas'

55
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

'The Fairy' (left) and 'Pink Flower Carpet' and 'Red Meidiland' roses

Fairy,' 'Carefree Delight,' and 'Jeanne the "easy care" old roses and some of Individual petals of large varieties and
Lajoie.' Varieties I've enjoyed that take the modern landscape roses. If you the whole small-flowered roses can be
more care but are tasty and beautiful choose some of the hybrid tea and candied and used as a garnish on
and bloom all summer are 'Graham florabunda roses, chances are they will desserts. Use fragrant rose petals to
Thomas' and 'Perfect Moment.' need much extra care—fertilizing and make jellies, rose water, and vinegars.
Cathy Barash, edible flower maven, substantial disease and pest controls— They can be infused to make flavored
who grows roses extensively in U S D A so you will need to consult some books honey, butters, and simple and fruit
Zone 5, likes to recommend 'Tiffany,' on roses (see the Bibliography, page syrups; sprinkled over salads; placed
'Mr. Lincoln,' 'Double Delight,' 104) to keep them growing well. under a sorbet to create a graceful pre-
'Mirandy,' and 'Pink Flower Carpet' sentation; and used in many ways as a
(which is not fragrant but has a pleas- Caution: Never eat florist-grown garnish. To make rose sugar, mince 2
ant taste) as fairly hardy if given winter roses, as they usually contain toxic cups of fragrant petals and pound
protection, good for the kitchen, and chemicals. them together with a mortar and pestle
resistant to diseases in the N e w York with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Let the
area. They all bloom throughout the H o w to prepare: Most rose varieties mixture sit for a week, strain out the
summer. have a strong floral taste. Some of the petals, and store the sugar in an air-
Rosebushes are best planted bare dark red varieties can be too strong tight container.
root in early spring. Appendices A and metallic tasting. With most roses,
and B (pages 92-102) give basic infor- you need to remove the white part at
mation on planting and maintaining the base of the petal, as it is bitter.

56
r o s e s — s a f f l o w e r

RUNNER BEANS SAFFLOWER


Phaseolus coccineus Carthamus tinctorius
R U N N E R BEANS ARE DRAMATIC S A F F L O W E R S ARE T A L L , STIFF

vines that are covered most of the sum- plants with 1-inch thistlelike flowers.
mer with spikes of small red flowers.
H o w to grow: Safflower is a tender
H o w to grow: Runner beans are annual that grows to 3 feet tall. It
grown for their dramatic, long string prefers light, dry, well-drained soil.
beans, which are eaten fresh or allowed Plant seeds every 6 inches, about ll2
to dry and then stored for later use. T h e inch deep, after any danger of frost is
flowers are just a bonus. These beans past. T h i n the seedlings to 2 feet apart.
grow best in cool-summer areas, and Safflower needs full sun. Safflower
most varieties have large vines with flow- blooms in midsummer with thistle-
ers of red orange, white, or, in the case shaped flowerheads that turn from
Scarlet runner beans (top left), 'Scarlet
of 'Painted Lady,' salmon and white. A Bees' runner beans (top right), safflower deep yellow to deep red as they
dwarf variety, 'Scarlet Bees,' grows to 2 (above) mature. They have few pest and dis-
feet and has red flowers. Grow runner ease problems.
beans as you would most snap beans— H o w to prepare: Runner bean flow-
in good soil, in full sun. Plant the seeds ers have a sweet, bean/pea taste and a H o w to prepare: Safflower petals
1 inch deep, 3 inches apart. T h i n them slightly crunchy texture. Use them to taste slightly bitter. Remove the petals
to 6 inches apart. Keep the plants fairly top soups, especially bean soups; in from the tops of the flowers and use
moist and protect the seedlings from cream cheese appetizer sandwiches; in them fresh or dried. In either form the
slugs, snails, and bean beetles. T h e green and bean salads; and as a garnish petals give cooked foods a lovely yel-
plants flower within a few months and for steamed snap beans and white bean low color. Substitute safflower for cal-
produce beans if the weather stays in puree. endula petals in recipes such as poor
the low 80s. W h e n temperatures get man's rice, or sprinkle them over a car-
high, the plants usually produce some rot salad or sliced jicama.
flowers but no beans.
57
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

and are treated as annuals in the Deep


South. Plant sage in average soil with
extremely good drainage and in full
sun. In hot weather, and on house-
grown sages, spider mites are occasion-
ally a problem. For the best flower
selection, plant the standard culinary
sage, with its gray leaves and spikes of
purple or white flowers, in the spring,
and pineapple sage, in either its full
size or dwarf version with its green
leaves and red flower spikes, in the fall.
To keep these plants looking neat, trim
them back once heavily in the spring
Saffron flowers among lambs' ears leaves and, if leggy, again in the summer.
Harvest whole flowering spikes or
SAFFRON few days, and store them in a covered
individual florets.
jar in a warm, dry place. Grind and
Crocus sativus
use them in rice dishes, including pilaf
PROBABLY ONE OF THE world's and paella; with seafoods; and in East
most expensive flavorings, the spice Indian dishes. Saffron also adds a
consists of the dried, pulverized stig- gorgeous golden color to bundt cakes
mas of a fall-blooming crocus. and the famous French fish soup
bouillabaisse.
H o w to grow: Plant the corms of
these crocuses in late summer. They
are available from a few specialty seed
SAGE
companies and nurseries. Hardy to
Salvia officinalis, S. elegans
U S D A Zone 6, these plants prefer rich,
well-drained soil with some afternoon SAGE FLOWERS ARE spectacular
shade. Plant these pretty, mauve to spikes of purple or red flowers; they
purple crocuses in large quantities if taste like the leaves, only a little
you wish to harvest them for the saf- sweeter. Not all culinary sages bloom,
fron, since a suitable harvest requires so look for specific varieties that have
many plants. Divide and replant every flowers.
two years.
H o w to grow: Most culinary sages
Caution: Do not confuse saffron are perennials that are grown from
crocus with the autumn crocus, cuttings. C o m m o n sage is hardy to
Colchicum, which is poisonous. U S D A Zone 4 if given protection in
the coldest regions. Pineapple sages are
H o w to prepare: Remove the orange hardy only to U S D A Zone 7. Most
Common purple sage (top) and the less
stigmas with tweezers, dry them for a sages do poorly in hot, humid climates common white variation (bottom)

58
s a f f r o n — s c e n t e d g e r a n i u m s

H o w to prepare: T h e flower spikes


of common sage are great dipped in a
tempura batter and deep-fried. Use
individual florets to garnish saltim-
bocca, carpaccio, roast venison, white
bean or tomato cream soup, and frit-
tatas. Sprinkle them over a green
tossed salad, steamed mussels, or a fen-
nel and orange salad. Add them to a
wild mushroom risotto, mince the
blossoms and incorporate them into a
cheddar or cream cheese spread, or use
them in sweet butter to melt over pork
or grilled mushrooms. T h e red spikes
of pineapple sage flowers have a dis-
tinctive pineapple taste; the individual
florets can be used in teas and cold
drinks and in tropical fruit salads,
jams, jellies, and salsas. A collection of scented geraniums at the
Berkeley Botanical Garden (above) and
lemon-scented geranium (right)

SCENTED outside year-round. Gardeners in cold

GERANIUMS climates grow them in containers and


bring them inside for the winter. T h e
Pelargonium spp.
plants can grow to 3 feet across in mild
S C E N T E D G E R A N I U M S H A V E small climates and benefit from annual
edible flowers that are generally pink pruning to keep them neat looking.
to rose. Plant scented geraniums in full sun or
light shade, in well-drained soil.
H o w to grow: T h e many names of Fertilize and water only occasionally.
scented geraniums belie their taste. Harvest individual small flower clus-
Lemon, mint, chocolate, nutmeg, and ters off the plant and separate them
rose geraniums produce edible flow- before serving them.
ers. Only the rose- and lemon-scented of pound cake or as a glaze on a fruit
ones are worth using in the kitchen, H o w to prepare: Use the small tart. Florets can also be put into a
however. flowers of rose and lemon geraniums sugar canister to flavor sugar for use in
Set out plants from the nursery after to flavor ice creams and custards or to pound cake, sugar cookies, and tea. My
the weather warms up, or start them garnish a fruit salad. Add them to greatest success at candying edible
from cuttings earlier in the spring. In creme fraiche served over strawberries flowers has been with scented gerani-
climates where winter temperatures or peaches. Flavor apple jelly with ums; they keep their color and are very
stay above 30°F, they can be grown them, and use the jelly between layers flavorful.

59
e n c y c l o p e d i a o f e d i b l e f l o w e r s

SQUASH flower to obtain pollen. O n e by one,


transfer the pollen to the centers of the
BLOSSOMS female flowers. To slow d o w n s u m m e r
Cucurbita spp. squash production, to thin a winter
squash harvest, or w h e n you are cook-
ALL SQUASH AND PUMPKINS
ing the blossoms as baby squash, har-
produce large yellow blossoms that are
vest females too.
edible. These flowers have a long his-
tory as a delicacy reaching back to the
H o w to prepare: Squash blossoms
early Native American tribes.
have a slightly sweet nectar taste. Wash
and gently dry the flowers. (Watch out
H o w to grow: All squash are
for bees if you are using closed blos-
w a r m - w e a t h e r crops that g r o w well in
soms; the bees sometimes get trapped
a vegetable garden. Zucchini squash
inside and, contrary to reason, are not
produces the most, and largest, blos-
happy w h e n you free them!) If you're
soms. Try in particular the varieties
using the blossoms for fritters or stuff-
'Clarimore' and 'Gold Rush.' Plant
ing, keep the stems on. Stuff them
squash seeds 1 inch deep in the spring
with cheeses, bread crumbs, couscous,
after any threat of frost has passed.
or meat mixtures and bake or deep-fry
H a v e the soil filled with well-rotted
them. D o n ' t worry about the sharp
m a n u r e . All squash need full sun. T h e
prickles—they will wilt during cook-
bush types spread to 3 feet; the large
ing. Otherwise, remove stems, stamens,
winter squash and p u m p k i n s spread to
and stigmas. Some cooks string the
12 feet. Keep the soil moist and fertil-
blossoms like celery, removing the
ize midseason with fish meal or e m u l -
veins that r u n d o w n the outside of the
sion. W h e r e cucumber beetles and
flower. Thinly slice the blossoms and
squash vine borers are a problem,
use t h e m in cream soups, souffles, frit-
cover the plants with floating row cov-
tatas, omelets, scrambled eggs, burri-
ers until the blossoms appear.
tos; over pasta; and sprinkled on salads
Try to gather the blossoms in the
accompanied by a p u m p k i n seed oil
early m o r n i n g before they close, and
vinaigrette.
put their bases or stems in water in the
refrigerator until you need them. T h e
female flowers have an i m m a t u r e little
squash at the base where they meet the
stem; the male flowers end at the stem.
Most gardeners gather only male blos-
soms, m a k i n g sure to leave a few to
pollinate the females. If you need to
harvest all the male flowers, you can
A basket of squash blossoms {top); 'Gold hand-pollinate the remaining females.
Rush' zucchini blossoms (bottom); notice
the baby squash at the back of the
W i t h a cotton swab or small paint
female flowers brush, gently rub the anthers on a male

60
s q u a s h b l o s s o m s — t h y m e

STRAWBERRIES THYME 'Pink Panda' strawberry flowers (left);


'Sequoia' strawberry flowers (right)
Fragaria X ananassa Thymus spp.

W E GROW STRAWBERRIES for their THYME IS A FRAGRANT HERB


luscious fruits, but the white single from the Mediterranean that produces
flowers are also edible. clouds of small edible flowers.

H o w to grow: Grow strawberries in H o w to grow: T h y m e is hardy to


a vegetable garden in full sun in rich U S D A Zone 5, though it needs a pro-
organic soil that is fairly moist. They tective mulch in the coldest zones.
are hardy to U S D A Zone 4. Runners These spreading perennials vary from
are available from the nursery in the 4 to 12 inches high and are gray green,
spring. Choose locally adapted, day- dark green, or golden. French thyme,
neutral or ever-bearing varieties, as they T. vulgaris, is the most commonly used
produce for most of the summer. 'Pink culinary thyme and has lavender flow-
Panda' produces lots of pink flowers ers. Other choice varieties are lemon
and few fruits. Plant 1 foot apart. Mulch thyme, T. citriodorus, which has a rich
strawberry plants well and fertilize mid- lemon taste and pink flowers; and car- 'Lime,' 'French,' 'Wooly' thyme and
dianthus
season with fish emulsion. Harvest occa- away thyme, T. herba-barona, with a
sional flowers and fruits as they appear. caraway taste and pink flowers. All that are great for garnishing plates and
Slugs attack both flowers and fruits. thymes need full sun and fast-draining platters. T h e small flowers can be
During hot weather strawberries are soil. In the spring cut back the foliage removed from the stems and sprinkled
prone to spider mites, and the plants by about a third so the plant stays lush. over soups, salads, sauces, braised rab-
will rot if the drainage is poor. Most gardeners start plants with trans- bit, grilled or poached fish, grilled
plants. Thymes are quite pest and dis- duck breast, asparagus, and
H o w to prepare: Sprinkle straw-
ease resistant. caramelized sweet onions, or they can
berry petals over salads and candy
be incorporated into soft cheeses and
them whole to use as a garnish for all H o w to prepare: T h e tiny pink or
butters.
sorts of desserts. lavender flowers are borne on sprigs
61
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

TULIPS
Tulipa spp.
T U L I P S ARE BELOVED HARBINGERS

of spring. T h e flowers can be red,


yellow, orange, magenta, pink, laven-
der, or white, and fluted or smooth.

H o w to grow: Purchase bulbs at


your local nursery. Tulips are hardy
plants grown from bulbs set out in fall.
Before planting, prepare the bed well
and add bonemeal. In large drifts or
even in containers, plant the bulbs two
and a half times as deep as they are
wide. Make the beds in a sunny area in
well-draining soil. If rodents are a
problem, plant the bulbs in wire bas-
kets and cover the emerging spring
shoots with netting.

Caution: A few people are allergic


to tulips, so all new diners should pro-
ceed with caution. Look for n u m b
hands or an upset stomach.

H o w to prepare: Tulip petals have a


sweet, pealike flavor and a tender, crisp
texture. Use them in salads or tea sand-
wiches. Try arranging the petals on a
platter around your favorite savory
dip. Or better yet, stuff whole flowers
with shrimp or chicken salad for a
showstopper. Carefully remove the
pollen and stigmas from the base of the
flowers before stuffing them.

'Balalaika' red, 'Delyne Goldtech5 orange and yellow 'Jewel of Spring' tulips (top);
'Big Chief tulips (bottom)

62
t u l i p s — v i o l a s

VIOLAS,
PANSIES, AND
JOHNNY-
JUMP-UPS
Viola cornuta, V. wittrocfyana,
and V tricolor
T H E FRIENDLY FACES OF VIOLAS

and pansies appear in almost all cli-


mate zones during the cool season.

H o w to grow: These viola-type


flowers come in various colors and are
about lli inch to 3 inches across, de-
pending on the variety. They are all
annual flowers that grow best in cool
weather. Plant seeds or bedding plants
in moist, rich soil, in partial shade.
They can take light frost. Fertilize
every six weeks with fish emulsion. To
keep the flowers coming, remove the
old flower heads every few weeks. T h e
'Universal' pansy and 'Crystal Bowl'
violas are the varieties most readily
available. T h e most notable pests are
slugs, snails, earwigs, and sowbugs,
which eat the emerging buds, and vari-
ous rots that attack in humid weather.
Johnny-jump-ups will generally reseed
themselves in your garden.

H o w to prepare: T h e petals have a


very slight lettucelike taste. They are
beautiful for decorating desserts, as
garnishes, and in salads. They can be
made into a flavorful simple syrup or
they can be candied. W h e n infused in a
vinegar, the purple flowers turn the
mixture lavender.

A mix of 'Universal' pansies (above);


Johnny-jump-ups (bottom)

63
e n c y c l o p e d i a of e d i b l e f l o w e r s

VIOLETS
Viola odorata
C A N D I E D VIOLETS HAVE BEEN a

treat for centuries and are still avail-


able in gourmet shops today.

H o w to grow: These hardy perenni-


als grow well in a shady, moist corner
of the garden in rich soil. T h e single,
so-called wild species of violets grows
so readily that it can become a nuisance.
You can also obtain many selected cul-
tivars that come in purple, pink, or
white. As a rule, these varieties are
much less vigorous, and some have no
fragrance. Buy the common violets and
an occasional named variety at your
local nursery, and, if possible, buy them
in bloom to ensure they are fragrant.
You can probably get divisions of the
common violet from a gardening
friend. Spider mites can sometimes be
a problem in dry climates.

H o w to prepare: Violets have a


strong, sweet, very floral taste. They're
great for candying or using plain in
desserts, salads, garnishes, and tea
sandwiches. Freeze them in ice cubes
and float them in a punch bowl. Use
violets to scent a sugar bowl, flavor a
custard, or color and flavor a vinegar.

Orange 'Crystal Bowl' violas with the


edible flowers of mache {top); harvest of
pansies and violas (bottom); common
violets (facing page)

64
v i o l e t s

65
favorite
flower
recipes
I
remember the first time an arti- exhilarating. Even very simple uses of
choke was placed in front of me. I flowers can be quite spectacular—
had never seen one, and a knife and chopping up rose petals and incorpo-
fork looked woefully inadequate. rating them into sweet butter, for
" H o w do you eat it?" I asked my host- example, or decorating baked pears
ess. Over the years I have had a similar with white lilac florets. Consider mak-
feeling when restaurants put flowers ing such dishes as baklava flavored
on my plate. Flower eating is not part with rose petal honey, herb pizza
of our culinary heritage, but in many sprinkled with nasturtium and herb
other cultures, both ancient and mod- flowers, a wedding cake strewn with
ern, people grow up eating flowers fresh violets or orange blossoms, or
without thinking it odd at all. T h e sorbet made with cottage pinks or
Japanese and Chinese put chrysanthe- apple blossoms.
m u m blossoms in tea, Italians regularly Flowers in the kitchen are indis-
use squash blossoms, and other Euro- I gathered the following recipes putably primarily decorative—their
peans have used roses and violets for partly from those sources, partly from colors and shapes are truly spectacular
centuries. In fact, much of the infor- some of this country's best cooking additions. American cooks are begin-
mation in the Encyclopedia of Edible professionals, and partly from my own ning to think more and more about
Flowers (page 29) was drawn from his- experience. Unfortunately, I couldn't how food is presented and to subscribe
torical documents and ethnic cook- begin to incorporate all the ways of to the belief that beautiful meals are
books. preparing edible flowers, but you'll get more satisfying and life-enhancing
a good foundation. You'll also discover than plain fare. Consider how much
that you can get very involved without more festive and colorful are salads
Edible flowers (top) ready to garnish a buffet
using complicated cooking techniques made with borage and nasturtium
table full of salads include calendulas, chives,
mustard flowers, and scented geraniums. and that the range of possibilities is blossoms than those sporting the usual

67
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

radish or red cabbage slices. Parsley see if you like them. This step may look for "critters," such as baby slugs,
has been done to death, so how about seem obvious, but I've been served earwigs, and thrips, that might be hid-
using mustard or scarlet runner bean some pretty unpalatable flowers over ing down in the petals. T h e r e are more
blossoms instead? Or for an alternative the years—I'm sure the cooks hadn't places to hide in flowers than in veg-
to the usual frosting flowers on your tasted them beforehand. Pick the flow- etables, and many people get really
next birthday cake, how about using ers in the cool of the day, preferably in upset when they see something crawl
violets or honeysuckle blossoms or the morning. Put those with long out of their salad.
large damask rose petals? stems in water; pick short-stemmed With some flowers—such as roses,
But eye appeal is not the only virtue ones, such as borage and orange blos- calendulas, tulips, chrysanthemums,
of edible flowers. Many actually give soms, no more than three or four hours and lavender—only the petals are edi-
us new flavors to cook with. Consider ahead of time, put them between layers ble. With others—Johnny-jump-ups,
the rich aroma of roses, lavender, of damp paper towels or in a plastic violets, and pea and runner bean blos-
orange blossoms, or anise hyssop. bag, and refrigerate. Flowers, of soms—the whole flower can be eaten.
T h e "Encyclopedia of Edible course, are perishable and wilt in a Separate the petals just before you use
Flowers" resolves the most important warm place. And they'll bruise almost them, as they wilt within minutes.
issue of which flowers are edible, but instantly if they're handled roughly. Some flower petals, such as those of
some fundamental questions remain: Most cooks gently wash flowers roses, dianthus, and marigolds, have a
H o w are the flowers prepared for before using them. Especially for can- white part that can be quite bitter;
cooking? W h a t parts are edible? dying, flowers must be thoroughly dry, remove it. Also remove the stamens,
Which flowers go with which dishes? so allow an hour or so for the flowers styles, and sepals of large flowers such
First, taste some of the flowers to to dry. While washing your flowers, as tulips, open lilies, and squash bios-
soms because they are usually too garnishes; the flavor of the flower rated with candied violets. Even more
tough. shouldn't overpower the dish. lusciously decadent is a Grand Marnier
It is important for the flowers to fit Lavender, for instance, is very strong, chocolate cake decorated with orange
the dish. While not an absolute rule, and a whole flower on a light cream blossoms. Use flower butters on pasta,
sweet flowers are best in or as gar- soup would probably obliterate the bread, tea sandwiches, and biscuits.
nishes to desserts and fruit dishes, and taste of the soup. A few tiny lavender Use candied flowers throughout the
savory types are wonderful with soups, petals or mild calendula petals would year on mousses, souffles, chiffon and
salads, and entrees. For example, use be a subtle and elegant solution. cream pies, chocolate truffles, petits
chive blossoms in sandwiches and on Use squash blossoms in crepes, light fours, hors d'oeuvres, ice creams, iced
onion dishes, nasturtiums in salads, soups, and omelets. Steep lavender and teas, and all kinds of cakes.
and mustard blossoms on ham-filled apple blossoms as well as honeysuckle,
crepes. The sweet, floral taste of roses, anise hyssop, and violets in milk and
violets, and apple blossoms goes well then use the milk to make a custard
with cakes, puddings, and pies. Bee for pies, puddings, ice cream, or for
balm petals are rather floral and sweet filling for cream puffs. Imagine
but make a good garnish to a lemon- floating-island pudding with a violet-
flavored fish sauce. Use discretion with flavored custard and meringues deco-

Classic tea sandwiches (left) are filled with watercress and cream cheese. Blue violas and white
watercress blossoms are tucked into the sandwiches and used to garnish the plate. Rose-scented
geranium jelly can be used between layers of pound cake or piped into delicate rolled cookies to
make little treats to serve at a shower or fancy party (above).

69
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Flower Butters
2 to 4 fresh nasturtium leaves, or a Making any flower butter involves the
few sprigs of fresh parsley
same process. First, remove the petals
3 or 4 chive leaves (optional)
from the flowers and wash them well

B
in cold water—check for critters.
oth savory and sweet butters can be Chive Blossom Butter
Gently pat them dry in a towel or dry
made with flowers. Probably the
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick), them in a salad spinner. Using a very
most versatile savory butters are made
room temperature sharp knife, mince the flowers and any
from chive blossoms or nasturtium 10 to 12 large, barely open com- leaves. (Mincing is easier if you roll the
flowers. Serve these savory butters with mon chive flowers, florets (petal
blossoms into a small ball before cut-
a crisp French bread or melt them over clusters) separated
ting them.) Cut a stick of room-
vegetables, fish, or poultry. Or also add 2 small sprigs of fresh parsley, or 8
temperature butter into six or eight
or 10 large chive leaves
savory herbs, lemon juice, or other fla-
pieces and then mash them with a
vorings such as ground chipotle pep-
Rose Butter fork. W h e n the butter is fairly soft,
pers or grated fresh ginger. Sweet
slowly incorporate any flavorings and
flower butters can be made with roses, 4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick),
the flowers and leaves. With a rubber
violets, lavender, and pineapple sage room temperature
spatula put the mixture into a small
and are a treat on egg breads, sugar 1 teaspoon superfine sugar, or finely
granulated sugar (sometimes
butter crock or decorative bowl.
cookies, or as a mystery filling between
called bartenders' sugar) Refrigerate until serving time. Flower
layers of pound or sponge cake.
1/4teaspoon almond extract butters can be frozen in sealed contain-
Generous handful of rose petals from ers for up to two months.
the fragrant old-fashinoned types,
Nasturtium Butter All three recipes make a little more
such as 'Belle of Portugal,' any of
than lh cup.
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick), the rugosa roses and damasks, and

room temperature the 'Eglantine' rose (enough to yield

12 to 18 nasturtium flowers 2 tablespoons of chopped petals)

70
f l o w e r b u t t e r s — s w e e t t h i n g s

Rose Petal Honey steep over extremely low heat for 45


minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove
Robin Sanders and Bruce Naftaly of
from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Le Gourmand restaurant in Seattle use
Strain the honey through a fine sieve,
this honey to make baklava, transform-
and reserve petals for another use.
ing an already delicious dessert into
Makes about 1 cup.
something divine. They also suggest
using this honey in other desserts, meat
Quick Rose-Scented Geranium
glazes, and tea. When using rose honey Apple Jelly
in your favorite baklava recipe (Joy of
Cooking has one; eliminate the orange This is one of Carole Saville's cre-
water, though), also sprinkle a few ations. Her favorite way to use the jelly
chopped honeyed rose petals on the nut is to make pound cake "sandwiches."
mixture and use fresh or candied roses If you want a more strongly flavored
as garnish. jelly, add another scented geranium
leaf to the recipe.
1 cup unsprayed rose petals,
preferably the fragrant old- 1
A cup fresh raspberries
fashioned types, such as 'Belle 3 large rose-scented geranium

Sweet Things
of Portugal,' any of the rugosa leaves
roses, damasks, and the 1 (10-ounce) jar apple jelly
eglantine rose Petals from 18 rose-scented
1 cup honey geranium flowers
Lavender Sugar
Rinse the rose petals briefly in cold Place the raspberries in a strainer
Making fragrant lavender sugar takes
water and dry them in a salad spinner. placed over a small bowl. With the
about a month. Use it to flavor cookies,
In a nonaluminum pan, slowly heat the back of a spoon mash the berries
lemonade, and hot or cold teas.
honey until runny. With a wooden against the side of the strainer to
½ cup dried lavender leaves and spoon stir in the rose petals, cover, and extract the juice. Set the juice aside.
flowers
2 cups superfine sugar, or finely
ground granulated sugar (some-
times called bartenders' sugar)

In a jar with a tight lid, mix the dried


lavender and the superfine sugar.
Shake it up occasionally to equally dis-
tribute the sugar. After about three
weeks to a month the oils of the laven-
der will have flavored the sugar suffi-
ciently. Sift the mixture through a
large strainer to remove the lavender.
Store the sugar in its jar for up to a
year.
Makes 2 cups.

71
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Wash and thoroughly dry the gera-


nium leaves. Finely chop the leaves
Candied Flowers
and tie them in a square of cheesecloth.
Pour the apple jelly into a saucepan
and quickly bring it to a boil. Stir in B aby roses, Johnny-jump-ups, vio-
lets, violas, scented geraniums,
orange blossoms, edible pea blossoms
the reserved raspberry juice, then add
the bag of geranium leaves. Stir the (not sweet peas, which are poisonous),
mixture for 1 minute, then cover and borage are all particularly well
tightly, and remove from heat. Let suited to candying.
the jelly cool for about 20 minutes. Use candied flowers to decorate
Uncover the pan and,, with the back of cakes, cookies, ice cream, and hors
a spoon, press the bag of geranium d'oeuvres. Wedding cakes are stun-
leaves against the side of the pan to ning covered with candied roses, and
extract all the juice. Discard the bag of salmon canapes are dramatic decorat-
geranium leaves. Stir in the geranium ed with candied pea blossoms. For an
petals. Pour the still-warm jelly into a Art Deco presentation, cover a cake
hot, sterilized jar. Put on the lid and with marzipan icing, wrap it with
allow the jelly to cool (it should take blue French ribbon, and create a clus-
approximately an hour). Refrigerate ter of matte-finish blue-candied
and use within two weeks. pansies.
Makes 10 ounces. In the cool of the morning on a dry
day, select and cut flowers that are per-
fectly shaped and newly opened. Keep
Tip:
enough of their stems so you can put
"I add an extract of roses to a them in water and later hold them
standard angel food cake and comfortably. Wash the flowers a few
cover with a pale pink icing. I hours before working with them so
then decorate the cake with they will be dry.
fresh roses and violets and put To candy flowers, you need a small
rose geranium leaves around paint brush, a bowl, cake rack, fork,
the base. I serve it with ice finely ground granulated sugar (some-
cream and a little bit of creme times called bartenders' sugar or
de cassis (a black-currant superfine sugar), and an egg white.
liqueur) so that everything is In a small bowl, beat an egg white
pale pink." only slightly. Holding a flower by its
stem, gently paint the petals with a To candy violets (top) or other edible flowers, first
give them a light coating of egg white with a paint
—Holly Shimizu, managing light coating of egg white, thoroughly
brush, being careful to completely cover the
director of the Lewis Ginter covering the front and back because petals. With your fingers, lightly sprinkle extra-fine
Botanical Garden in any part of the petal not covered will granulated sugar over the petals. Dry them on a
rack in a very warm, dry place for a few days or
Richmond, Virginia wither and discolor. Sprinkle the flow-
in a dehydrator until firm. Once the flowers are dry
ers with sugar, making sure to cover {bottom), put them in a flat, dry container. Use the
both sides of the petals thoroughly. An flowers to decorate cakes and cookies. Any

72
s w e e t t h i n g s — c a n d i e d f l o w e r s

alternative method is to use a paste rack. Put the flowers in a warm, dry
mixture of confectioners' sugar and a place (I use my gas oven, with just the
little egg white. This mixture gives a heat from its pilot light) or in a food
matte finish to citrus blossoms and dehydrator set on low. After a few days
large flowers like dark-colored pansies. they should be fully dry; store them in
Paint this mixture on both sides of the a sealed tin. Some of the flowers will
petals. become deformed; discard them or
When your flower is completely break them up to use as a confetti. You
sugared, lay it on a cake rack and can use your candied flowers immedi-
spread the petals in a natural position. ately, but if you store them in a dry
After an hour or two move the flowers place, most varieties will keep for up to
around so the petals won't stick to the a year.

broken pieces of candied flowers can be used


to sprinkle on confections as you would
confetti, shown on the cake in the same photo,
to the right. When you candy flowers, if you use
confectioner's instead of granulated sugar you
can achieve a mat finish on the flowers, giving
them a delicate, old-fashioned look. The cake
here (far right) has been garnished with yellow
pansies that were treated in this manner.

73
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Edible Flower
runner bean flowers, pansies, Carefully wash the flowers and
violas, violets, and mustard
herbs and gently pat them dry on
flowers

Canapes Herb leaves: sage, parsley, mint,


paper towels. Lay them out on d a m p
paper towels and cover with plastic
dill, and basil
wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use,

E
In a mixing bowl, add the chives and 3 but not for more than a few hours.
dible flowers provide a striking
tablespoons of water to the cream Decorate each canape square with
palette with which to decorate
cheese and mix until smooth. If the an edible flower or two and an herb
food. With a small garden of edible
mixture is too thick, add a little more leaf or two. Re-cover the canapes light-
flowers you can make your canapes
water. ly with plastic wrap and refrigerate
look like edible art.
Trim the crusts off the bread and until serving time. T h e canapes may be
cut it into Winch-thick slices. Cut the done a few hours in advance, but do
½ cup snipped fresh dill or chive
leaves
slices into large squares or rectangles not prepare them any earlier, or the
1 pound natural cream cheese, 2½ to 3½ inches wide. Spread the garnishes will wilt.
softened cream cheese mixture on the bread— Put a paper doily on a decorative
2 large loaves of dense sandwich approximately 1 tablespoon per tray, place decorated squares on the
or rustic-style unsliced bread,
square—and arrange the squares on tray, and serve.
or 2 packages melba toast
cookie sheets. Cover them lightly with Appetizers for 6 to 8 people.
A selection of edible flowers, 4 or 5
plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready
dozen: nasturtiums, borage,
calendulas, pineapple sage,
to decorate.

74
a p p e t i z e r s

Tulip and Endive For the filling:


4 ounces chevre cheese
To make the filling: In a small
bowl, use a fork to break up the

Appetizer
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream chevre, working in a few tablespoons
Flavorings: minced pimiento strips;
of cream. Use enough cream to make
finely chopped nasturtium or
the chevre workable. With a fork
violet petals; or minced fresh
herbs such as fennel, tarragon, incorporate the flavorings to taste.

I
Ifyou can spare a few tulips in full
chives, and sorrel
bloom for an appetizer plate, you wil
To assemble the appetizers: Lay out
set the party atwitter. Arrange a bed of Bibb lettuce leaves on
about 18 endive leaves. Top them with
a large serving platter.
Inside leaves from 2 medium heads
1 or 2 tulip petals. At the base of each
Remove the petals from the tulips
of Bibb lettuce petal place ½ teaspoon or so of the
and gently wash them. Place them on
4 or 5 large tulip flowers of chevre mixture. Arrange the appetizers
different colors
paper towels to dry. Cut the root end
on the bed of Bibb lettuce and serve.
2 or 3 Belgian endives off the endives and separate the leaves.
Makes 18 to 24.
Cover and refrigerate the lettuce, tulip
petals, and endives if you're not serv-
ing them right away.

75
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Pineapple Sage
Salsa

C athy Barash, executive garden edi-


tor of Meredith Books, created this
recipe while visiting when my pineap-
ple sage was in bloom. This salsa is a
delicious accompaniment to fish, such
as grilled swordfish or tuna, or serve it
on a bed of baby greens as an appetizer.

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut


into small bite-size chunks

1 sweet yellow bell pepper, finely

Citrus Dip for a small decorative bowl, cover it with


plastic wrap, and refrigerate until
diced (about 1 cup)
½cup Vidalia or Walla Walla onion,

Begonia ready to serve. finely chopped

2 tablespoons Rose's sweetened


Just before serving, gently wash the
lime juice

Blossoms begonia blossoms and remove each of


the petals at its base. Place the bowl of
½ teaspoon ground dried ancho or

other mild chile pepper


flavored yogurt on a large platter and ½ cup pineapple sage flowers,

T
arrange the petals in a decorative pat- measured, then coarsely
he slightly crisp texture and sweet
tern around the bowl. Serve the appe- chopped
citrus flavor of begonias can be a
tizer within the hour to prevent the
spectacular ice-breaking appetizer. T h e In a glass or stainless-steel (nonreac-
petals from wilting.
blossoms come in many splashy colors, tive) bowl, toss together all the ingredi-
Serves 4 to 6.
and a platterful makes a lovely center-
piece for a buffet table.

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon frozen orange juice

concentrate
1 teaspoon orange zest
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup nonfat yogurt
4 large organically grown tuberous

begonia flowers

In a small bowl, combine the honey,


orange juice concentrate, and orange
and lemon zests. Add the yogurt and
mix well. Pour the yogurt mixture into

76
a p p e t i z e r s

ents. Cover and refrigerate for at least


6 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Makes about 2 cups.

Ricotta-Stuffed
Zucchini
Flowers

T his recipe was created by Vicki


Sebastiani, famous for her garden,
her cooking, and her family winery,
Viansa Winery and Italian
Marketplace in Sonoma, California.
Drizzle the melted butter over the 1/2 cup whole milk
The proportions vary according to the 2 eggs, beaten
flowers and microwave them on
number and sizes of the flowers. A 2 tablespoons peanut oil
medium power for 3 minutes, or bake
word of caution: sometimes bees get Oil for frying
at 350°F in a regular oven for 15 min-
trapped in the squash flowers. 16 (4-inch) lengths of sage in
utes. Be careful not to overcook the bloom (flowers and leaves)

1 pound ricotta cheese


flowers or allow the filling to ooze out.
Arrange the stuffed flowers on a In a large bowl, sift together the corn-
1 onion, minced
½ cup toasted almonds, or pine serving platter. Garnish with nastur- meal, flour, cornstarch, baking powder,
nuts, finely chopped tiums stuffed with leftover filling. sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl,
½ cup grated Asiago (or Parmesan)
Serves 10 as an appetizer. whisk together 1 cup of water, the
cheese milk, eggs, and peanut oil. Gradually
½ teaspoon freshly ground black whisk together the two mixtures. In

Sage Tempura
pepper
a heavy frying pan, heat about 1 inch
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
oil until a dollop of batter dropped in
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
sizzles and bubbles. Dip the sage into
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian

R
parsley the batter and drop into the oil (de-
on Ottobre developed this flashy
1 teaspoon melted butter pending on the size of the frying pan,
and incredibly tasty appetizer
Approximately 20 to 30 medium you can usually cook about 6 at a time
while he was executive chef at Mudd's
zucchini (or any other squash) without cooling down the oil too much).
Restaurant in San Ramon, California.
flowers, freshly picked
When they're lightly browned on one
Garnish: nasturtium flowers
side, turn the sage over, and cook the
2/3 cups cornmeal
Rinse the flowers. Mix together all the other side. Remove to paper towels or
2 cups unbleached flour
ingredients except the butter and flow- brown paper to drain. Serve immedi-
4 tablespoons cornstarch
ers. With the filling at room tempera- ately with your favorite dipping sauce,
2 tablespoons baking powder
ture, use a pastry tube to carefully stuff 2 tablespoons sugar or reheat in the oven the next day.
the flowers; do not overfill them. 2 teaspoons salt Serves 4.

11
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

For the dressing:


2 tablespoons rice-wine or
champagne vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black
pepper
1 teaspoon frozen white grape juice
or apple juice concentrate
3 or 4 tablespoons extra-virgin
olive oil

To make the salad: Wash the lettuce


and baby greens and dry them in a
salad spinner or gently pat them dry
with paper towels. In a large salad
bowl, break the lettuce leaves into
bite-size pieces and add baby greens.
If not serving immediately, cover the
bowl lightly with plastic wrap and
refrigerate.

To make the dressing: In a small


bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pep-
per, and juice concentrate. Whisk in
the oil until blended.
Wash the flowers gently, lightly pat
them dry with paper towels, and gen-
tly pull off the petals. In a small bowl,
stir the petals to mix the colors and
make a confetti. You should have
l/3
about cup of loosely packed petals.
Stir the dressing, pour 3 or 4 table-
spoons over the lettuce and greens, and

Flower Confetti possible. Put the stems in a glass of


water and refrigerate.
toss. Add more dressing if needed, but
be careful not to overwhelm the salad.

Salad For the salad:


Divide the salad equally among four
salad plates. Scatter a small handful of
1 large, or 2 small, heads of Bibb flower-petal confetti over each indi-

C
lettuce
hartreuse butter lettuces and the vidual salad and serve.
1 large handful of mixed baby
warm colors of flower petals can Serves 4.
greens
dress up an everyday salad or start off 6 to 8 edible flowers such as
a festive meal. A salad can be especially nasturtiums, calendulas, violas,
dramatic when prepared at the table. pansies, rose petals, or
Pick flowers as close to serving time as chrysanthemums

78
s a l a d s

Wild Violet For the salad:


1 large handful of baby mesclun
slosh the greens up and down. Repeat
the process two or three times until the

Salad
greens
water is completely clear. Spin the
1 handful of young violet leaves
greens in the salad spinner or pat them
1 small head of romaine or butter
dry with paper towels. Break the lettuce
lettuce

V
6 or 8 pea tendrils (tender shoots
leaves and pea tendrils into bite-size
iolets are tasty and very nutritious
at the ends of the vines) pieces. Put the mesclun, lettuce, violet
and grow so easily they can become
8 to 10 violet flowers leaves, and pea tendrils in a salad bowl,
a pest. But what a pest. My violets give
cover, and refrigerate until serving time.
me greens and flowers from February
For the dressing: Gently wash the flowers. Refrigerate in
to May. Look your garden over and see
1½to 2 tablespoons balsamic or a glass of water until just before serving.
what other unusual greens can be har-
red wine vinegar
vested: pea shoots from edible peas,
1 teaspoon honey To make the dressing: In a small
miner's lettuce, chickweed, or tiny Salt and freshly ground black pepper
container, combine the vinegar, honey,
young dandelion leaves. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt, and pepper and with a fork or
1 tablespoon hazelnut or almond oil
wire whisk blend in the oils. Drizzle
Caution: Make sure you can positively
Wash the mesclun greens, violet leaves, the dressing over the greens and toss.
identify your greens and that none
lettuces, and pea tendrils well in a large Remove the stems from the flowers,
have been sprayed with toxic chemi-
amount of water in the sink or in the add the flowers to the salad, and serve.
cals.
bowl of a salad spinner. Vigorously Serves 4.

79
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Baby Shower
tal cabbage, mizuna, tatsoi, Wash the greens well, dry them in a
amaranth, and mache
salad spinner, and arrange them in a
6 to 8 large colorful ornamental

Petal Salad cabbage leaves


large bowl. Place the large leaves of
ornamental cabbage around the out-

T
side of the bowl.
his salad can be expanded to feed a For the dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the vine-
large crowd. Plan on one large 2 to 3 tablespoons champagne
vinegar or white-wine vinegar
gar, salt, pepper, and garlic if desired.
handful of salad greens per person and
Salt and freshly ground black pepper Whisk in the oil. Add the herbs and
approximately ½ cup of dressing for
1 small garlic clove, finely minced stir.
six people. This is a great vehicle for
(optional) Just before serving, sprinkle the
showing off your garden, so include 4 or 5 tablespoons extra-virgin
dressing over the greens. Arrange the
unusual greens like orach, ornamental olive oil
flowers over the salad and serve imme-
cabbages, and violet leaves, as well as 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh
diately.
herbs like chervil and borage. Choose mint or basil

Garnish: baby rose petals; straw-


Serves 6.
edible flowers in the pink, blue, and
berry blossoms; borage; violas;
white range for a garnish.
pansies; violets; dianthus;

For the salad: apple, pear, and plum blossoms;


and chives
6 handfuls of mixed salad greens
1 handful of baby leaves of fancy
greens: orach, violets, ornamen-

80
s a I a d s

Mardi Gras For the dressing:


3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
To make the dressing: In a small
bowl combine the vinegar, salt, and

Salad with
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
pepper, blend in the oil, and add the
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
thyme and garlic.
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh

Pecans lemon thyme or spearmint


To make the salad: Wash the greens
1 small garlic clove, pressed
and break them into bite-size pieces.

For the salad: Place the greens and pecans in a large

F or an exciting winter dish, try a


salad celebrating Mardi Gras. In
N e w Orleans the colors of Mardi Gras
1 head butter lettuce

½ head of romaine

1 handful of fresh baby spinach


salad bowl.
Gently wash the flowers. Remove
the petals and put them in a small
leaves, or mature spinach
are gold, green, and blue. Since salad bowl.
broken into bite-size pieces
greens and cool-season edible flowers To serve, whisk the vinaigrette well,
½ cup whole pecans
are at their best in mild climates dur- pour it over the greens, and toss gently.
12 to 20 gold nasturtiums and
ing this February festival, a salad made calendulas, and blue and gold Adjust seasonings if necessary after the
with fresh greens at their peak and pansies and violas dressing is tossed with the greens. Just
edible flowers in colors to match the before serving, sprinkle flower petals
theme is a real show-off dish and adds over the salad.
style to the celebration. Serves 4 to 6.

81
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Poor
Man's
Pilaf

T he perfume of the spices and the


beauty of the flower petals makes
this a special dish. To obtain the most
color from the petals, mince the petals
well before adding them to the rice.
Serve with a salad for a light supper or
as an interesting side dish.

About 15 cardamom pods


1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1½ cups basmati rice
1-inch-diameter sheaf of spaghetti,
broken into 3-inch pieces
3½ cups homemade or low-sodium
chicken stock or vegetable
stock
1 cup cubed carrots
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons calendula
petals, divided
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen petit pois
½ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons safflower petals

Remove the outer shell of the car-


damom pods and take out the seeds.
(You need1/8teaspoon.) In a dry saute
pan, toast the cardamom, cumin, and In a large saute pan with a lid, heat lendula petals and add them to the rice
coriander seeds over low heat until the oil, and over medium-low heat mixture. Add the spice mixture and
they start to perfume the air. Remove saute the onion until translucent, about the pepper to the rice and stir. Cover
them from the pan and grind them 7 minutes. Add the rice and spaghetti and simmer on low heat for about 20
with a mortar and pestle or in a spice and saute over low heat until they start to 25 minutes, until the rice is tender
grinder. (I use a coffee grinder that I to brown. Add the chicken stock and and the liquid has been absorbed. Add
keep just for spices.) Set the spice mix- the carrots to the pan carefully, as the the peas and cook until done, 1 or 2
ture aside. oil may splatter. Chop3/4cup of the ca- more minutes. Take the pan off the

82
m a i n d i s h e s

Stir-Fried Beef
with Anise
Hyssop

T his simple and delicious dish from


Renee Shepherd, of Renee's
Garden, uses anise hyssop to add a
subtle flavor that enhances all the other
ingredients. Serve over fluffy white
rice.

½ cup chopped anise hyssop flow-


ers and leaves
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons sherry
1 pound flank steak, cut across the
grain into strips 3 inches long
and 1/4inch wide
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons chopped scallions
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in
2 teaspoons water

In a bowl, combine the anise hyssop


flowers and leaves, soy sauce, brown
sugar, and sherry. Pour the mixture
over the steak strips and marinate for
several hours.
Remove the meat from the mari-
nade, reserving the remaining sauce. In
a wok or large skillet, heat the oil and
heat, stir in the almonds, and transfer stir-fry the meat quickly over medium-
to a serving bowl. Sprinkle on the saf- high heat until brown, about 5 min-
flower petals and the remaining 2 utes. Add the scallions, the chicken
tablespoons calendula petals and serve. broth, and the marinade and heat
Serves 4 to 6. through. Stir in the cornstarch mixture
until the sauce thickens. Garnish with
flowers if desired.
Serves 4 to 6.

83
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Grilled Swordfish
with Rosemary

T his recipe from Carole Saville


blends the richness of swordfish
with the assertiveness of rosemary. It
works equally well if you broil the
swordfish.

1/4cup fresh rosemary leaves and


soft stems, plus 4 teaspoons,
divided
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4teaspoon salt
Ground red pepper
4 swordfish steaks, 1 inch thick
(about 5 ounces each)
Garnish: 4 teaspoons finely
chopped rosemary, rosemary
flowers if in bloom, and lemon
wedges

Finely chop the rosemary. In a small


bowl, rub the rosemary with the bot-
tom of a glass to bruise it. In a large,
deep plate, mix the olive oil, lemon
juice, salt, ground red pepper, and
rosemary and stir to combine.
Rinse the swordfish and pat it dry.
Turn each steak over in the marinade to
coat well. Cover the plate and refrigerate
for 1 hour, turning the swordfish once.
Grill the fish over medium flame,
turning after 5 minutes. Grill until the
flesh is opaque when cut in the thick-
est part, about 5 more minutes. Re-
move to four warmed plates. Sprinkle
1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary over
each serving. Garnish with lemon
wedges. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
84
m a i n d i s h e s

85
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Rose
Petal
Syrup

T his versatile syrup can be used on


crepes or pancakes, drizzled over
sponge cake, or used in sorbets. My
favorite roses to use are 'Belle of
Portugal,' 'Abraham Darby,' and the
spicy Rosa rugosa alba. Try your own
varieties for flavor. Some are sensa-
tional, others metallic or bitter tasting.
If the white bases of the petals are bit-
ter, remove them.
Caution: Use only roses that have
not been sprayed with commercial
chemicals. Diners allergic to sulfur
should be particularly careful, as
organic gardeners often use sulfur to
control rose diseases.

2 cups rose petals


2/3 cup sugar

Wash the petals and dry them in a


salad spinner. Check for insects. Chop
the petals very fine. In a m e d i u m
saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil
and stir in the sugar. W h e n the sugar
is melted, add the petals. Remove the
syrup from the heat and cover it
tightly. Let it steep overnight.
Taste the syrup the next day, and if
the flavor is not strong enough, reheat
the syrup, add more petals, and let it
steep overnight again. You can store the
syrup in the refrigerator for up to two
weeks—freeze it for longer storage.
Makes 1 cup.

86
a e s s e r t s

Rose A day before serving, combine the


syrup and grape juice in an ice cream
Lavender
Petal maker. Follow the manufacturer's
directions for making sorbet. Once the
Ice Cream
Sorbet sorbet is done, freeze it in an airtight

T
container for 24 hours. You can get
his recipe was inspired by Chef
away with only 3 hours as an absolute
David Schy when he was chef at

I
minimum.
icheal Isles, chef/instructor in the El Encanto Hotel in Santa Barbara.
To serve, choose four perfect large
Chico, California, created this H e served this ice cream at a seminar,
roses, remove the centers, spread them
fabulous treat. Make the syrup at least and participants were reduced to bick-
open, and secure them to the middle of
two days before making the sorbet. ering like children over who had the
the plates or dishes with a little egg
most.
1 cup rose syrup (see page 86 for
white. Just before serving, place a

recipe) scoop of sorbet in each rose. T h e sorbet 14 ounces whole milk


1 bottle of late harvest may also be served in sherbet glasses or 11/2 ounces fresh lavender flowers
Gewurtzraminer grape juice floating in champagne in fancy long- and leaves
4 perfect large rose blossoms 2 ounces crystallized ginger,
stemmed goblets.
1 egg white minced
Serves 4 to 6.
1 cup granulated sugar

87
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Tangelo and
3 egg yolks 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups cold heavy whipping cream 5 lemon, tangerine, or orange blos-
soms, divided
In a saucepan, slowly heat the milk to Kiwi Salad 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
approximately 200°F. Remove from 2 kiwifruit
heat, add the lavender flowers, and with Orange Squeeze 3 of the tangelos and put the
steep for 15 minutes. While it's still

Blossoms
juice (or the bottled tangerine juice) in
warm, strain the milk through a
a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice
cheesecloth. Add the ginger and sugar
and the petals of 3 of the orange blos-
to the milk. Place the egg yolks in a

T
soms. If the tangelos are not very
small bowl and pour in half of the his citrus salad is lovely to look at,
sweet, add a tablespoon of honey. Peel
milk mixture. Stir the mixture with a and the flavors are both familiar
and section the remaining 3 tangelos,
spoon, then pour it back into the yet slightly different. Taste your citrus
peel and slice the kiwifruit, add them
saucepan. Place the pan over low heat petals before adding them to the dress-
to the juice mixture, and stir to cover
and cook until the mixture is approxi- ing. Expect some bitterness; but if they
the fruit. Refrigerate for a few hours.
mately 200°F. Remove the saucepan are very harsh, try blossoms from
To serve, divide the fruit among
from the heat and stir in the whipping another tree. T h e point of adding a
four serving dishes. Pour the tangelo
cream. Refrigerate the mixture until it few citrus blossoms to the dressing is to
juice over the fruit and garnish with
is well chilled, then process in any ice infuse the tangelo juice with a lovely
the remaining citrus blossom petals.
cream machine. aroma and to deepen the citrus flavor.
Serves 4.
Makes 1 quart.
6 medium tangelos, divided, or 3
tangelos and 1 cup of bottled
fresh tangerine juice
88
a e s s e r t s

Scented
2 pints strawberries creme fraiche over each serving. Gar-
Garnish: scented geranium flowers
nish with scented geranium flowers.

Geranium, In a small bowl, combine the scented Serves 4.


Note: Creme fraiche is readily
geranium leaves, 2 tablespoons of

Creme FraTche, sugar, and creme fraiche. Cover the available in France, but is still a bit
expensive and hard to find here. A
bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate

and Strawberries for 48 hours. Scrape the creme fraiche good approximation can easily be
made at home.
into a large, fine-mesh sieve, and with
the back of a spoon push it through Place 1 cup heavy cream and 1

C and into another bowl. Discard the tablespoon buttermilk in a small bowl.
arole Saville, author of Exotic
geranium leaves. Cover the creme Stir well, cover the bowl with plastic
Herbs, has perfected cooking with
fraiche with plastic wrap and return it wrap, and leave the mixture at room
scented geraniums—this is one of her
to the refrigerator until ready to serve. temperature until it thickens slightly,
recipes.
Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut about 12 to 24 hours depending on the
1 tablespoon finely minced rose- temperature. Once it is thickened,
large ones into slices. Sprinkle with
scented geranium leaves
remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Divide refrigerate the creme fraiche until you
3 tablespoons granulated sugar,
the strawberries among four small are ready to use it. It will keep in the
divided
1 cup creme fratche (see Note) glass cups or bowls. Spoon the scented refrigerator for about a week.

89
f a v o r i t e f l o w e r r e c i p e s

Tea Cake with Lavender


Anise Hyssop Shortbreads
and Lemon
S hortbread cookies lend themselves
to all sorts of special flavor varia-

A nother recipe from Renee


Shepherd. T h e combination of
anise and lemon will especially please
tions. Here I use lavender, but rose
geraniums would be tasty too.
Shortbread cookie stamps are available
those who do not like things too sweet. from some specialty baking-supply
This bread keeps well and actually houses.
tastes best after being wrapped in foil
2 cups unsalted butter, room
overnight.
temperature

1 cup "Lavender Sugar" (see


2 cups all-purpose flour
recipe, page 71)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½teaspoon salt
1 4 cups all-purpose flour
/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 2 teaspoons dried lavender blos-
/2 cup granulated sugar
soms
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/3 to ½ cup anise hyssop flowers,
finely chopped To make the shortbread: Using the
2 eggs, beaten paddle attachment on a stand mixer,
½ cup fresh lemon juice
blend the butter, lavender sugar, and
½ cup chopped walnuts
salt on a low to medium speed until

Grease and flour a bread or loaf pan. light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Work in the flour gradually, scraping

Sift together the flour, baking pow- the bowl occasionally to blend all the

der, and salt. In another bowl, with a ingredients well. Mix in the lavender

hand mixer cream the butter with the blossoms. Shape the dough into a ball,

sugar until fluffy. T h e n add the lemon wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate

zest, flowers, and eggs and beat the it for at least 2 hours.

mixture just until thoroughly com-


bined. Stir in the lemon juice. To shape the shortbread: If you're
Gradually mix in the flour mixture using a cookie stamp, cut the dough
and walnuts, until blended. Spoon the into golf-ball-size pieces. Roll each piece If you don't have a stamp, roll out

mixture into the pan and bake for 50 into a ball with your floured hands, the dough on a floured board to about

to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool on a then press it with the lightly floured ½ inch thick. Using a cookie cutter or

rack. stamp. Gently remove the stamp and a 3-inch-diameter water glass, cut out

Makes 1 loaf. place the formed dough on a cookie circles and place them on a parchment-
sheet lined with parchment paper. lined cookie sheet. Score each cookie

90
d e s s e r t s

with the tines of a fork a few times, Preheat the oven to 300°F. Bake the
making a pleasing pattern. You can shortbread for 25 to 30 minutes, or
also cut the dough into equal rectan- until it is pale golden but not brown.
gles instead of circles. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Refrigerate the formed cookies for
30 minutes before baking them.

91
appendix A C overed in this section are the basics of the lawn needs constant irrigation, they
soil preparation, starting seeds, trans- eventually develop a number of diseases.
planting, fertilizing, composting, mulching, Once you've decided on where to put

planting and
watering and irrigation, and maintaining your tree or shrub, it's time to plant.
most annual, perennial, and woody, edible Woody plants are best planted in the
flowering plants. spring when they are most available in
Edible flowers are produced by many nurseries and when they will have a long

maintenance
types of plants. Some, like nasturtiums and season to get established before winter cold
calendulas, are annuals. Others, like sets in. Apple trees are available bare root,
daylilies, chrysanthemums, dianthus, and that is, when they are dormant and the
many of the flowering herbs, are perenni- roots are wrapped for protection, but with-
als and hence stay in the garden for a num- out soil, or in containers. Other trees and
ber of years. There are also the "woody" shrubs are usually sold only in five-gallon
plants, such as apple trees, redbuds, and containers.
citrus trees, which might live as long as 100 To prepare the soil for your tree or
years. And then there are the roses, which shrub, dig a hole that is double the width
while usually classified as a woody shrub, I of the root ball and six inches deeper. Mix
put in a category by themselves, as they are in a cup or so of bonemeal around the bot-
such a quirky lot. Each type of plant needs tom and rough up the sides of the hole
its own planning and planting treatment, with a spade or digging fork. Mix in half a
and maintenance techniques differ too. A wheelbarrowful of organic matter, but only
number of these plants, like the citrus and if the soil is light and sandy. (Contrary to
pineapple guava, are quite tender; although past recommendations to amend the plant-
they can be grown in a greenhouse, only ing hole in heavy soils with copious
planting them in the ground in a suitable amounts of organic matter, we now know
climate is adressed here, since indoor that the roots of woody plants seldom leave
growing is a science of its own and beyond amended fluffy soil to venture out into
the scope of this book. The seeds for some dense native soils. Instead, they remain
annual and perennial edible flowers may confined to the planting hole. When the
need to be started indoors weeks before soil is not ammended, the roots extend far
setting them out in the garden. Refer to into the parent soil.) Examine the root ball.
"Starting Seeds" for guidelines on starting Use a knife or sharp spade to cut through
your seeds early. any thick mat of roots on the sides and
bottom. Shovel some of the soil back in the
hole and place the tree or shrub in the hole
an inch or so higher than it was in the con-
Trees and Shrubs— tainer. Straighten the roots out onto the
backfill in the hole. Shovel the soil back in
The Woody Plants the hole and gently tamp the soil in place
with your foot. Build up a small watering
Planting
basin and water the plant in well by filling
This section covers pineapple guava, elder- the basin full of water three or four times.
berry, redbud, lilac, lemon, orange, and Apply a mulch of organic matter at least
apple trees. Since these plantings are per- three inches deep and at least six inches
manent, you need to give a lot of thought away from the trunk, to prevent the crown
to where you plant them. Will they get too of the tree (where the bark meets the roots)
large for the location? Is the soil in the area from staying moist and possibly rotting.
well drained? Is there enough sunlight in Keep the newly planted tree fairly moist
the chosen spot? Most woody plants need for the first month and then start to taper
fast-draining soil and at least six hours of off with the watering. In rainy climates
midday sun. Even though homeowners water the tree if it rains less than once a
want to plant them in a lawn, they never week. In arid climates water deeply with at
grow very well surrounded by grass: they least one inch of water a week in hot
must compete for nutrients and water, are weather. Drip irrigation is ideal for this
damaged by mowers and trimmers, and, if purpose.

92
p l a n t i n g a n d m a i n t e n a n c e

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is most useful when you are grow in your zone. Remember, however, that the zone only indicates
growing perennial plants because it indicates how cold a given area will how cold your garden will get, but there are many other factors that
be during an average winter. In order to use the map, locate your affect the health of your plants, namely summer highs and your area's
geographical area and consult the color code that indicates which zone soil type.
you are in. When you select plants for your garden, choose ones that

93
a p p e n d i x A

Maintaining Woody Plants this time if your soil is acidic, following the can be started indoors in flats or other well-
directions on the package. Incorporate the drained containers or outdoors in a cold
T h e maintenance of trees and shrubs dif-
ingredients thoroughly by turning over the frame, or with some easily started annuals
fers for each species. See the information in
soil with a spade. A d d some bonemeal and like nasturtiums and calendulas, directly in
the Encyclopedia of Edible Flowers for
work it into the top eight inches of soil, at the garden. Starting seeds inside is usually
specific information; only the generalities
the rate of 4 cups per 100 square feet. If preferable, as it gives your seedlings a
are covered here. Woody plants need the
your garden is large or the soil is very hard w a r m and safe start.
most care in the first five years, when they
to work, you might use a rototiller to turn T h e cultural needs of seeds vary widely
are getting established. Young trees will
the soil. (When you put in a garden for the among species. Still, some basic rules apply
need pruning to give them a well-formed
first time, a rototiller can be very helpful. to most seeding procedures. First, whether
shape; depending on the species, they may
However, research has shown that contin- you are starting seeds in the ground or in a
need pruning for optimum fruit produc-
ued use of tillers is hard on soil structure container, m a k e sure you have a loose,
tion. They also need protection from cold
and quickly burns up valuable organic water-retentive soil that drains well. Good
in winter if they are tender, weeds removed
matter if used regularly.) If you can do this drainage is important because seeds can get
from under the canopy of the tree, and an
soil preparation a few weeks before you waterlogged, and too much water can lead
annual application of a well-balanced fertil-
plant, so much the better. to "damping off," a fungal disease that kills
izer such as fish meal or chicken m a n u r e in
Finally, grade and rake the area. Make seedlings at the soil line. Commercial start-
the spring. T h r o u g h o u t their lifetime they ing mixes are usually best since they have
paths at least 3 feet wide through your gar-
will grow best with a spring mulch, weed been sterilized to remove weed seeds; how-
den so you can care for and harvest the
removal, and supplemental water during ever, the quality varies greatly from brand
flowers. Because of all the added materials,
periods of drought. to brand, and I find most lack enough
the beds will now be elevated above the
paths—which further helps drainage. Slope nitrogen, so I water with a weak solution of
the sides of the beds so that loose soil will fish emulsion when I plant the seeds, and

Annuals, Perennials, not be washed or knocked onto the paths. again every few weeks.
Some gardeners add a brick or stone edg- Smooth the soil surface and plant the
Roses, and Vegetables ing to outline the beds. Some sort of gravel, seeds at the recommended depth. Pat down
brick, stone, or mulch is needed on the the seeds, and water carefully to make the
Installing a New Garden Bed
paths to forestall weed growth, to give a seed bed moist but not soggy. W h e n start-
If you are planning a new garden area in strong design to your garden, and most ing seeds outside, protect the seedbed with
which to plant annual and perennial flow- important, to prevent your feet from get- bird netting to keep out critters. If slugs
ers, plus a few vegetables, or you are ting wet and muddy. and snails are a problem, circle the area
installing a rose garden, the soil must be Once the beds are prepared, it is plant- with diatomaceous earth to keep them
prepared more thoroughly. These plants ing time. I obtain my edible flower plants away, and go out at night with a flashlight
need rich soil filled with organic matter in different ways. Many of the annual flow- to catch any that cross the barrier. If you
and great drainage. To prepare the soil for ers and vegetables I start from seeds. Plants are starting edible flowers in containers,
a new garden, first remove large rocks and like nasturtiums, calendulas, arugula, and put the seedling tray in a w a r m place to
weeds. Dig out any perennial weeds and marigolds are easily started from seeds, and help seeds germinate more quickly.
grasses, making sure to get out all the roots radishes can be obtained no other way. W h e n starting seeds inside, once they
(including all those little pieces). It's tedious Sometimes I buy my plants from nurseries have germinated it's imperative that they
but will save you lots of work in the long if they have the varieties I want or if I'm immediately be given a quality source of
run, as they usually come back—unfortu- late getting seeds started. Most perennials I light. A greenhouse, sunporch, greenhouse
nately up through your new plants. If you purchase from local or mail-order nurs- window, or south-facing window with no
are taking up part of a lawn, the sod needs eries, and plants that divide easily like overhang will suffice, provided that it is
to be removed. If it is a small area, this can chives and daylilies I usually get as divi- warm. If one is not available, use fluores-
be done with a flat spade. Removing large sions from a neighbor's plant. I find start- cent lights, which are available from h o m e -
sections, though, warrants renting a sod ing from seeds gives me lots of options with supply stores or from specialty mail-order
cutter. Next, when the soil is not too wet, many fun varieties. Whereas the local nurs- houses.
spade over the area. T h e n cover it with ery might carry one or two varieties of nas- Keep the soil moist and, if you have
three or four inches of compost (or other turtiums or calendulas, I might find a seeded thickly and have crowded plants,
organic matter such as leaf mold or well- dozen varieties in a mail-order catalog. thin the seedlings. It's less damaging to do
aged manure). Add even more compost if so with small scissors. Cut the little plants
you live in a hot, humid climate where heat out, leaving the remaining seedlings an
burns the compost at an accelerated rate, or inch or so apart. D o not transplant your
if you have very alkaline, very sandy, or Starting from Seeds
seedlings until they have their second set of
very heavy clay soil. Most plants grow best You can grow most annual and many true leaves (the first leaves that sprout
in a soil p H between 6 and 7, so add lime at perennial edible flowers from seeds. They from a seed are called seed leaves and usu-

94
p l a n t i n g a n d m a i n t e n a n c e

ally look different from the later true Selecting and Planting climate, the lower the bud union.) Finish
leaves). If the seedlings are tender, wait Roses filling in the hole with soil and gently
until all danger of frost is past before you tamp it in place. Build up a small watering
set them out. Young plants started indoors Variety selection is critical when choosing basin, and water the rose in well. Then
or in a greenhouse should be "hardened roses for your garden. Select those that are comes my secret formula for success: I
off before they are planted in the gar- the most resistant to the diseases that are mulch with a 2-inch layer of alfalfa meal
den—that is, they should be put outside in prevalent in your area. Try to resist being or alfalfa pellets, mixed or topped off with
a sheltered place for a few days in their enticed by those photos of gorgeous roses— 2 to 3 inches of an organic mulch, such as
containers to let them get used to the dif- they will not look gorgeous when they are compost. Alfalfa meal or pellets slowly add
ferences in temperature, humidity, and air covered with diseases. And you will not be nitrogen and trace elements to the soil. (I
movement. able to eat the flowers if they are covered buy my alfalfa meal, or the pellets, from
with toxic fungicides. Contact the Ameri- the local feedstore. The pellets are sold as
can Rose Society, your local rose society, rabbit food.) Keep all mulch at least six
county agricultural extension agent, or inches away from the base of the rose. Drip
Transplanting
locally owned nurseries for information on irrigation is the best possible method of
Place the plants in their containers where roses that are suitable for your area. Un- keeping roses watered, as it keeps the
they are to be planted. When planting a fortunately, it is difficult to get roses tai- foliage dry, a critical issue with black spot
garden of annual flowers, vegetables, or lored to your climate from large chain and rusts.
perennials, choose short species and vari- nurseries and building-supply firms, as
eties for the front of the beds and tall ones they often offer the same roses nationwide.
for the back. Step back and see how you As a rule, some of the old varieties and
like the layout, and then fine-tune the most modern shrub landscape roses have
Maintaining the Edible
arrangement. (The single biggest mistake far fewer problems than most hybrid tea Flower Garden
we all make is not to allow enough room and floribunda roses.
for the plant to spread to its maximum When you are planting roses, calculate The backbone of appropriate maintenance
size.) how far each variety will spread and how is a knowledge of your soil and weather,
Now begin to plant. Before setting out tall it will get. Situate the short varieties in an ability to recognize basic water- and
transplants in the garden, check to see if a the front of the bed and the tall ones in nutrient-deficiency symptoms, and a famil-
mat of roots has formed at the bottom of back. Fungus diseases are the major prob- iarity with the plants you grow.
the root ball. I open it up so the roots won't lem when you grow roses, so it's critical
continue to grow in a tangled mass. Even that you give each plant plenty of room for
though the garden bed has been well pre- good air circulation. (Note that the plant-
Annual Flowers
pared and by this time lots of organic mat- ing size for roses listed in catalogs is an
ter and bonemeal have been added, for the average. If you live in the coldest part of a Annual plants are growing machines. As a
heavy-feeding broccoli, mustard, and recommended zone for a particular rose, rule, they need to grow rapidly with few
squash, I supplement the planting area assume that the plant will be smaller than interruptions so they have few pest prob-
with some form of nitrogen fertilizer. I add described. If you live in a mild-winter area, lems. Once the plants are in the ground,
either fish meal, following the prescribed assume that the plant will get larger than continually monitoring them for nutrient
amount given on the package, or a few reported.) After preparing the planting deficiencies or drought can head off prob-
shovels full of chicken manure for each beds, dig a planting hole for each rose and lems. Keep the beds weeded because the
plant. I then set the plant in the ground at add half a bag of well-aged steer manure weeds compete for moisture and nutrients.
the same height as it was in the container if (about one cubic foot) and mix it well with In normal soil, anise hyssop, bee balm, bor-
it's a 4-inch container or smaller, and a little the soil. I add1/4cup of epsom salts for age, chives, saffron crocus, arugula, calen-
above ground level if it's in a one-gallon strong growth at this time as well. (Epsom dulas, dill, cilantro, fennel, violets, and nas-
container or larger. I pat the plant in place salts are available in supermarkets or drug- turtiums usually will not need fertilizer,
gently by hand, and water each plant in stores.) If you are planting bare-root roses, but broccoli, mustards, squash, strawber-
well to remove air bubbles. If I'm planting mound the soil in the hole and spread out ries, marigolds, violas, and pansies usually
on a very hot day or the transplants have the roots evenly over the mound. The need a light application of a nitrogen fertil-
been in a protected greenhouse, I shade depth at which you plant them is deter- izer such as fish emulsion or fish meal mid-
them with a shingle or such, placed on the mined by the climate you live in. In mild- season if they are to grow well. Pruning is
sunny side of the plants. I then install my winter areas the bud union (where the seldom needed, but removing spent flow-
drip irrigation tubing at this time (see upper part of the bush was grafted to the ers, called deadheading, will cause most to
"Irrigation" below for more information) rootstock) should be right at 1 or 2 inches flower more heavily and give the plants a
and then mulch with a few inches of above the soil surface level. In cold-winter neater appearance.
organic matter. I keep the transplants moist climates place the bud union 1 to 2 inches
but not soggy for the first few weeks. below the soil surface level. (The colder the

95
a p p e n d i x A

Perennial Flowers Some plants can be grown in containers mulch. Remove this protection in early
and brought inside to a cool, dry place and spring. Most hardy shrub roses will not
As a rule, once perennials are established,
then taken back out to the garden after the need special winter protection.
they require less routine maintenance than
weather warms up.
most annuals. Fertilizing is usually not
needed for average soil that has been well
prepared (though most will benefit from an Mulching
Rose Maintenance
inch or two of compost applied once or
twice a year). Pests and diseases are much Mulching with organic matter can save the
T h e amount and type of maintenance roses
less a problem than with annuals. T h e need depends a lot on the variety. Many of gardener time, effort, and water, and the
major tasks for perennials are weeding, the old roses and m o d e r n shrub roses need process builds great soil. A mulch reduces
annual pruning, and mulching and winter little care compared with the complex and moisture loss, prevents erosion, controls
protection in cold climates. time-consuming care needed by hybrid tea weeds, minimizes soil compaction, and
and floribunda roses, which have been moderates soil temperature—keeping the
You need to weed to make sure
bred for the show table not for the average roots cool in the summer and preventing
unwanted plants don't compete with and
overpower your plants. Be especially vigi- garden. See the Encyclopedia of Edible them from heaving out of the soil in the
lant and look for perennial grasses, which Flowers (page 29) for some recommended winter. T h e organic material adds nutrients
if left in place will grow among and over rose varieties. and organic matter to the soil as it decom-
perennials like lavender, daylilies, saffron poses, and it helps keep heavy clay porous
For further information, read some of
crocus, pinks, and strawberries and obliter- and helps sandy soils retain moisture.
the books listed in the Bibliography or con-
ate them. A good small triangular hoe will tact the American Rose Society and other Applying a few inches of organic matter
help you weed a small area if you start rose organizations (see Resources, page 103). every spring is necessary in most garden
when the weeds are small and easily pulled. beds to keep them healthy. Mulch with
Everblooming roses, including hybrid
If you allow the weeds to get large, then a compost from your compost pile, pine nee-
teas, floribundas, and grandifloras, need
session of hand pulling is needed. In peren- the most severe pruning; do so when they dles, composted sawdust, straw, or one of
nial plantings, if you apply a good mulch are dormant in late winter or early spring. the many agricultural by-products such as
every spring, the need to weed will be min- Many of the once-blooming old roses that rice hulls or grape pomace.
imal after a few years as the plants fill in are particularly nice for edible flowers are
and the annual mulch prevents weed seeds pruned after their flowering is over in early
from sprouting. summer; as a rule, cut them back by one- Composting
Many perennials, like lavender, rose- third to one-half. Some roses, like 'Flower
mary, sage, and thyme, need a major prun- Carpet' and 'Belinda,' will need to be Compost is the humus-rich result of the
ing every spring to force them to produce pruned only for shaping. In all cases, d a m - decomposition of organic matter, such as
new succulent growth, to keep them from aged, dead, or diseased wood should always leaves and lawn clippings. T h e objective in
overgrowing an area, and to remove winter be pruned. After you prune, always clean maintaining a composting system is to
damage in cold climates. In long-season, up the canes and all leaves and debris on speed up decomposition and centralize the
mild climates, further pruning midseason the ground and put them in the garbage. material so you can gather it up and spread
after flowering is recommended to prevent T h e following fertilizing regimen has it where it will do the most good.
the plants from getting woody and some- given me great results. Every spring, after Compost's benefits include providing nutri-
times splaying in the middle. Chrysanthe- pruning and just before the roses start to ents to plants in a slow-release, balanced
m u m s need pruning in late spring and leaf out, apply fish meal according to the fashion; helping break up clay soil; aiding
again in early summer to keep them bushy directions on the package and 'A cup of sandy soil to retain moisture; and correct-
and to prevent splaying. Other perennials epsom salts per plant, diluted in 1 gallon of ing p H problems. O n top of that, compost
such as anise hyssop, bee balm, pinks, and water. T h e n mulch each plant with two is free, it can be made at home, and it is an
daylilies need pruning after they bloom to inches of alfalfa meal or pellets. Later, in excellent way to recycle our yard and
remove spent flower heads and to look neat early summer after the first blooming has kitchen "wastes." Compost can be used as a
and tidy. finished, deadhead the plants, then feed soil additive or a mulch.
T h e less hardy perennials need winter them again with fish emulsion or fish meal. T h e r e need be no great mystique about
protection in the coldest climates. In the Gardens with acidic soil may need an composting. To create the environment
fall, after the ground has frozen, apply a application of lime every few years to raise needed by the decay-causing microorgan-
six- to eight-inch mulch of straw or com- the p H . isms that do all the work, just include the
posted material around the plants to insu- In late fall in very cold winter climates, following four ingredients, mixed well:
late the soil and prevent the cycle of freez- protect hybrid teas, grandifloras, and flori- three or four parts "brown" material high
ing and thawing that heaves plants out of bundas by watering well, cleaning up all in carbon, such as dry leaves, dry grass, or
the ground. It also prevents the plants from old leaves and debris under the plant, and even shredded black-and-white newspaper;
drying out in cold, dry weather when there mounding soil six to ten inches up the one part "green" material high in nitrogen,
is not enough snow to cover the plants. canes. Top off the mounds with a thick such as fresh grass clippings, fresh garden
96
p l a n t i n g a n d m a i n t e n a n c e

of supplemental watering system and a


knowledge of water management.
There is no easy formula for determin-
ing the correct amount or frequency of
watering. Proper watering takes experience
and observation. In addition to the specific
watering needs noted above, the water
needs of a particular plant depend on soil
type, wind conditions, air temperature, and
the type of plant. To water properly, you
must learn how to recognize water-stress
symptoms (often a dulling of foliage color
as well as the better-known symptoms of
A three-bin composting system drooping leaves and wilting), how much to
water (too much is as bad as too little), and
trimmings, barnyard manure, or kitchen In a rainy climate it's a good idea to have a how to water. Some general rules are
trimmings like pea pods and carrot tops; cover for the compost. I like to use three
1. Water deeply. Except for seed beds, most
water in moderate amounts, so that the bins. I collect the compost materials in one
plants need infrequent deep watering
mixture is moist but not soggy; and air to bin, have a working bin, and when that bin
rather than frequent light sprinkling.
supply oxygen to the microorganisms. Bury is full, I turn the contents into the last bin,
the kitchen trimmings within the pile, so as where it finishes its decomposition. I sift 2. To ensure proper absorption, apply water
not to attract flies. Cut up any large pieces the finished compost into empty garbage at a rate slow enough to prevent runoff.
of material. Exclude weeds that have gone cans so it does not leach its nutrients into
3. Do not use overhead watering systems
to seed, ivy clippings, and Bermuda grass the soil. The empty bin is then ready to fill
when the wind is blowing.
clippings, because they can lead to the up again.
growth of those weeds, ivy, and Bermuda 4. Try to water early in the morning so that
grass in the garden. Do not add meat, fat, foliage will have time to dry off before
diseased plants, woody branches, or cat or
dog manure.
Watering and nightfall, thus preventing some disease
problems. In addition, because of the cooler
I don't stress myself about the proper Irrigation Systems temperature, less water is lost to evapora-
proportions of compost materials, as long as tion.
I have a fairly good mix of materials from Even gardeners who live in rainy climates
5. Test your watering system occasionally to
the garden. If the decomposition is too may need to do supplemental watering at
make sure it is covering the area evenly.
slow, it is usually because the pile has too specific times during the growing season.
much brown material, is too dry, or needs Therefore, most gardeners need some sort 6. Use methods and tools that conserve
air. If the pile smells, there is too much
green material or it is too wet. To speed up
decomposition, I often chop or shred the
materials before adding them to the pile
and I may turn the pile occasionally to get
additional oxygen to all parts. During
decomposition, the materials can become
quite hot and steamy, which is great; how-
ever, it is not mandatory that the compost
become extremely hot.
You can make compost in a simple pile,
wire or wood bins, or in rather expensive
containers. The size should be about three
feet high, wide, and tall for the most effi-
cient decomposition and so the pile is easily
workable. It can be up to five feet by five
feet, but it then becomes harder to manage.

Baby lettuces with drip irrigation

97
a p p e n d i x A

water. When you are using a hose, a pistol- from being drawn up into the house drink-
grip nozzle will shut off the water while ing water. Further, a filter is also needed to
you move from one container or planting prevent debris from clogging the filters.
bed to another. Soaker hoses, made of One-inch distribution tubing is connected
either canvas or recycled tires, and other to the water source and laid out around the
ooze and drip irrigation systems apply perimeter of the garden. Then smaller-
water slowly to shrub borders and veg- diameter drip and ooze lines are connected
etable gardens and use water more effi- to this. As you can see, installing these sys-
ciently than do overhead systems. tems requires some thought and time. You
Drip, or the related ooze/trickle, irriga- can order these systems from either a spe-
tion systems are advisable wherever feasi- cialty mail-order garden or irrigation
ble, and most gardens are well suited to source or visit your local plumbing supply
them. Drip systems deliver water a drop at store. I find the latter to be the best solution
a time through spaghetti-like emitter tubes for all my irrigation problems. Over the
or plastic pipe with emitters, that drip years I've found that plumbing supply
water right onto the root zone of each stores offer professional-quality supplies,
plant. Because of the time and effort usually for less money than the so-called
involved in installing one or two emitters inexpensive kits available in home-supply
per plant, these systems work best for per- stores and some nurseries. In addition to
manent plantings such as in rose beds, with quality materials, there are professionals
rows of daylilies and lavender, say, or with there to help you lay out an irrigation
trees and shrubs. These lines require con- design that is tailored to your garden.
tinual maintenance to make sure the indi- Whether you choose an emitter or an ooze
vidual emitters are not clogged. system, when you go to buy your tubing, be
Other similar systems, called ooze sys- prepared by bringing a rough drawing of
tems, deliver water through either holes the area to be irrigated—with dimensions,
made every six or twelve inches along solid the location of the water source and any
flexible tubing or ooze along the entire slopes, and, if possible, the water pressure
porous hose. Neither system is as prone to at your water source. Let the professionals
clogging as are the emitters. The solid type walk you through the steps and help pick
is made of plastic and is often called laser out supplies that best fit your site.
tubing. It is pressure compensated, which Problems aside, all forms of drip irriga-
means the flow of water is even throughout tion are more efficient than furrow or stan-
the length of the tubing. The high-quality dard overhead watering in delivering water
brands have a built-in mechanism to mini- to its precise destination, and they are well
mize clogging and are made of tubing that worth considering. They deliver water
will not expand in hot weather and, conse- slowly, so it doesn't run off; they also water
quently, pop off their fittings. (Some of the deeply, which encourages deep rooting.
inexpensive drip irrigation kits can make Drip irrigation also eliminates many dis-
you crazy!) The porous hose types are ease problems, and because so little of the
made from recycled tires and come in two soil surface is moist, there are fewer weeds.
sizes—a standard hose diameter of one Finally, they have the potential to waste a
inch, great for shrubs and trees planted in a lot less water.
row, and V4-inch tubing that can be snaked
around beds of small plants. Neither are
pressure compensated, which means the
plants nearest the source of water get more
water than those at the end of the line. It
also means they will not work well if there
is any slope. All types of drip emitter and
ooze systems are installed after the plants
are in the ground, and are held in place
with ground staples.
To install any drip or ooze systems, you
must also install an anti-siphon valve at the
water sources to prevent dirty garden water

98
appendix B T
he following sections cover a large n u m - relationship and are not able to recognize
ber of pests and diseases. An individual beneficial insects. T h e following sections
gardener, however, will encounter few such will help you identify both helpful and pest

pest and
problems in a lifetime of gardening. Good organisms. A more detailed aid for identi-
garden planning, good hygiene, and an fying insects is Rodale's Color Handbook^ of
awareness of major symptoms will keep Garden Insects, by Anna Carr. A hand lens
problems to a m i n i m u m and give you is an invaluable and inexpensive tool that

disease
many hours to enjoy your garden. will also help you identify the insects in
While some edible flowers are as tasty your garden.
to garden pests as they are to us, many edi-

control
ble flowers are herbs and have far fewer
pests than the standard vegetable or flower
Predators and
garden. Deer and rabbits, say, are seldom
interested in most herbs. Pest insects as well Parasitoids
are seldom drawn to herbs, but in many
cases beneficial insects are. Plants such as Insects that feed on other insects are
cilantro, dill, thyme, and fennel all produce divided into two types, the predators and
many small flowers that provide nectar the parasitoids. Predators are mobile. They
crucial to many beneficial insects at differ- stalk plants looking for such plant feeders
ent stages of their life. Further, many flow- as aphids and mites. Parasitoids, on the
ering herbs like anise hyssop, chives, rose- other hand, are insects that develop in or
mary, sage, borage, chamomile, fennel, and on the bodies, pupae, or eggs of other host
lavender not only give us edible flowers but insects. Most parasitoids are minute wasps
provide nectar and pollen to both domestic or flies whose larvae (young stages) eat
and wild bees. W h e n you are aware of the other insects from within. Some of these
insect world around you, you can help wasps are so small, they can develop within
maintain the balance in your garden, and an aphid or an insect egg. Or one parasitoid
so benefit not only your plants, but all the egg can divide into several identical cells,
plants in your neighborhood. each developing into identical miniwasp
In a nutshell, few insects are potential larvae, which can then kill an entire cater-
problems; most are either neutral or benefi- pillar. T h o u g h nearly invisible to most gar-
cial to the garden. Given the chance, the deners, parasitoids are the most specific and
beneficials do much of your insect control effective means of insect control.
for you, provided that you don't use pesti- T h e predator-prey relationship can be a
cides, as pesticides are apt to kill the benefi- fairly stable situation; when the natural sys-
cial insects as well as the problem insects. tem is working properly, pest insects inhab-
Like predatory lions stalking zebra, preda- iting the garden along with the predators
tory ladybugs (lady beetles) or lacewing lar- and parasites seldom become a problem.
vae h u n t and eat aphids that might be Sometimes, though, the system breaks
attracted to your roses, say. Or a miniwasp down. For example, a n u m b e r of imported
parasitoid will lay eggs in the aphids. If you pests have taken hold in this country.
spray those aphids, even with a so-called Unfortunately, when such organisms were
benign pesticide such as insecticidal soap or brought here, their natural predators did
pyrethrum, you'll kill off the ladybugs, not accompany them. Two pesky examples
lacewings, and that baby parasitoid wasp are the European brown snail and Japanese
too. Most insecticides are broad spectrum, beetles. Neither organism has natural ene-
which means that they kill insects indis- mies in this country that provide sufficient
criminately, not just the pests. In my opin- controls. W h e r e they occur, it is sometimes
ion, organic gardeners who regularly use necessary to use physical means or selective
organic broad-spectrum insecticides have pesticides that kill only the problem insect.
missed this point. If you use an "organic" Weather extremes sometime produce
pesticide, you may actually be eliminating a imbalances as well. For example, long
truly organic means of control, the benefi- stretches of hot, dry weather favor grass-
cial insects. hoppers that eat gardens because the dis-
Unfortunately, many gardeners are not eases that keep these insects in check are
aware of the benefits of the predator-prey more prevalent under moist conditions.

99
a p p e n d i x B

T h e r e are other situations in which the or other perennials when you disturb their body. Their larvae are small green
predator-prey relationship gets out of bal- them. T h e i r favorite foods are soft-bodied maggots that live on leaves, eating aphids,
ance because many gardening practices larvae like root maggots; some even eat mealybugs, other small insects, and mites.
inadvertently work in favor of the pests. snails and slugs. If supplied with an undis-
For example, when gardeners spray with turbed place to live, like your compost Wasps are a large family of insects with
broad-spectrum pesticides regularly, not all area or groupings of perennial plantings, transparent wings. Unfortunately, the few
the insects in the garden are killed—and ground beetles will be long-lived residents large wasps that sting have given wasps a
since predators and parasitoids generally of your garden. bad name. In fact, all wasps are either
reproduce more slowly than do the pests, insect predators or parasitoids. T h e para-
regular spraying usually tips the balance in Lacewings are one of sitoid adult female lays her eggs in such
favor of the pests. Further, all too often the the most effective insects as aphids and caterpillars, and the
average yard has few plants that produce insect predators in developing larvae devour the host.
nectar for beneficial insects; instead, it is the home garden.
filled with grass and shrubs so that when a They are small green
few tastier plants are put in, they attract the or brown gossamer-
Pests
pests. Not only will the practices outlined winged insects that in
here help you create a garden free of most their adult stage eat
pest problems, but, with the right plants, flower nectar, pollen, aphid T h e following pests are sometimes a prob-
you can probably help eliminate other pest honeydew, and sometimes lem in the garden.
problems you or your neighbors have aphids and mealybugs. In the lar-
struggled with for years. val stage they look like little tan alligators. Aphids are soft-bodied, .
Called aphid lions, the larvae are fierce small, green, black,
predators of aphids, mealybugs, mites, pink, gold, or
Attracting Beneficial thrips, and whiteflies. gray insects
that produce
Insects Lady Beetles many genera-
(ladybugs) are the tions in one
Besides reducing your use of pesticides, the best k n o w n of the season. They
key to keeping a healthy balance in your beneficial garden suck plant
garden is providing a diversity of plants, insects. Actually, juices and
including plenty of nectar- and pollen- there are about exude honey-
producing plants. Nectar is the primary four hundred dew.
food of the adult stage, and some larval species of lady bee- Sometimes leaves under the aphids turn
stages, of many beneficial insects. T h e tles in N o r t h black from a secondary mold growing on
small flowers on the many herbs are just America alone. They the nutrient-rich how. Aphids are primari-
what tiny beneficial insects need. Many come in a variety of ly a problem on roses, broccoli, and chives.
composites (flowers in the Asteraceae family), colors and markings in addition to the A buildup of aphids can indicate the plant
such as calendulas and the single-petaled familiar red with black spots, but they are is under stress—are your roses getting
chrysanthemums, also offer abundant nec- never green. Lady beetles and their fierce- enough water, or sunlight, say? Check first
tar because their center contain numerous looking alligator-shaped larvae eat aphids, to see if stress is a problem and then try to
tiny flowers, each a source of nectar. mealybugs, and other small insects. correct it. If there is a large infestation, look
Following are a few of the predatory for aphid m u m m i e s and other natural ene-
and parasitoid insects that are helpful in the Spiders are close relatives of insects. There mies mentioned above. Mummies are
garden. Their preservation and protection are hundreds of species, and they are some swollen brown or metallic-looking aphids.
should be a major goal of your pest control of the most effective controllers of pest Inside the m u m m y a wasp parasitoid is
strategy. insects. growing. They are valuable, so keep them.
To remove aphids generally, wash the
Ground beetles Syrphid flies (also called foliage with a strong blast of water and cut
and their lar- flowerflies or hover back the foliage if they persist. Fertilize
vae are all flies) look like small and water the plant, and check on it in a
predators. bees hovering over few days. Repeat with the water spray a
Most adult flowers, but they few more times. In extreme situations spray
ground beetles have only two with insecticidal soap or a neem product.
are fairly large black wings. Most
beetles that scurry out have yellow and A number of beetles are garden pests. They
from under lavender black stripes on include cucumber and Japanese beetles.

100
p e s t a n d d i s e a s e c o n t r o l

Cucumber beetles are ladybug-like green todes, and by using applications of benefi- If mites persist, discard the plants. [Caution:
or yellow-green beetles with either black cial nematodes available from insectaries. If Always tend to plants with mites last, or
stripes or black spots. Japanese beetles are all else fails, grow the susceptible plants in wash tools well, as mites can hitch-hike on
fairly large metallic blue or green with cop- containers with sterilized soil. tools to other plants.)
pery wings. Cucumber beetles can be a prob-
lem on squash plants and may sometimes be Snails and slugs are not insects, of course,
found down inside the blossoms. Japanese but mollusks. Marigolds, violets, calendu-
Pest Control
beetles are often a problem on roses. las, and pansies are among the plants they
Beetles such as Japanese and cucumber relish. They feed at night and can go dor-
beetles, if not in great numbers, can be con- mant for months in times of drought or Beneficial Nematodes (Entomopathogenic
trolled by hand picking—in the morning is low food supply. In the absence of effective Nematodes) are microscopic round worms.
best, when the beetles are slower. Knock natural enemies (a few snail eggs are con- Many nematodes are selective predators of
them into a bowl of soapy water. Larger sumed by predatory beetles and earwigs), certain insects, especially soil-dwelling
populations may need more control, how- several snail-control strategies can be rec- insects. They can be purchased for use on
ever. Try a spray of insec- ommended. Since snails and slugs are most various pests, including Japanese beetle and
ticidal soap first; if active after rain or irrigation, go out and cucumber beetle larvae. Most beneficial
you're not success- destroy them on such nights. Only repeated nematodes must be mixed with water and
ful, use neem or forays provide adequate control. Planter need w a r m weather to survive. Be sure you
pyrethrum. boxes with a strip of copper applied along are using the species for the pest you have
Japanese beetles the top perimeter boards keep slugs and and read the directions carefully for appli-
were accidental- snails out—they won't cross the barrier. cation. Since they are selective, they do not
ly introduced Any overhanging leaves that can provide a h a r m earthworms or other organisms.
into the United bridge into the bed will defeat the barrier.
States early in this You will get some control by putting out Insecticidal soap sprays are effective against
century and are shallow containers filled to within an inch many pest insects, including caterpillars,
now a serious prob- of the top with cheap beer. T h e pests crawl aphids, mites, and whiteflies. They can be
lem in the eastern part of the country. T h e in and are not able to crawl out. purchased or you can make a soap spray at
larval stage (a grub) lives on the roots of home. As a rule, I recommend purchasing
grasses, and the adult beetle skeletonizes Spider mites are among the few arachnids insecticidal soap, such as the one made by
the leaves of many plants and chews on (spiders and their kin) that pose a problem Safer Corporation, as it has been carefully
flowers and buds. Certain species of benefi- in the garden. Mites are so small that a formulated to give the most effective con-
cial nematodes have proved effective in hand lens is usually needed to see them. trol with the least risk to your plants. If you
controlling the larvae of Japanese beetles. They become a problem when they repro- do m a k e your own, use a liquid dishwash-
Milky-spore, a naturally occurring soil- duce in great numbers and suck on the ing soap; do not use caustic or germicidal
borne disease, is also used to control the leaves of plants such as marigolds, roses, soaps.
beetles in the larval stage, although the dis- rosemary, sage, strawberries, and thyme. A
ease is slow to work. symptom of serious mite damage is stip- Horticultural oils have been used for many
pling on the leaves in the form of tiny years as d o r m a n t sprays on fruit trees.
Nematodes are microscopic round worms white or yellow spots, sometimes accompa- Today most horticultural oils are light-
that inhabit the soil in most of the United nied by tiny webs. T h e major natural weight "summer" or "superior" horticul-
States, particularly in the Southeast. Most predators of spider mites are predatory tural oils that have been refined to remove
nematode species live on decaying matter mites, mite-eating thrips, and syrphid flies. the compounds that damage the leaves of
or are predatory on other nematodes, Mites are most likely to thrive on dusty growing plants. T h e more refined oil can
insects, algae, or bacteria. (See "Beneficial leaves and in dry, w a r m weather. A routine be used on some plants to control pest
Nematodes" below.) A few types are para- foliage wash and misting of sensitive plants insects and diseases; however, they do
sitic, attaching themselves to the roots of helps control mites. Mites are seldom a seri- smother beneficial insects as well as pests.
perennials, including daylilies, lavender, ous problem unless you have used heavy- Follow the directions for summer concen-
and rosemary. T h e symptoms of nematode duty pesticides that kill off predatory mites trations. Always test the oil on a small part
damage are stunted-looking plants and or if you are growing plants in the house. of the plant first, as some plants are very
small swellings or lesions on the roots. Cut plants back, and if you're using heavy- sensitive to oil sprays and will burn or lose
To control nematodes, keep your soil duty pesticides, stop the applications, and their leaves. In addition, don't use horticul-
high in organic matter (to encourage fungi the balance could return. Serious infesta- tural oil on very hot days or on plants that
and predatory nematodes, both of which tions usually are controlled by using horti- are moisture-stressed.
act as biological controls). Some success has cultural oil. For plants in the house, cut
been recorded by interplanting with back foliage, wash it well, quarantine the Neem-oil extracts, which are derived from
marigolds, which seem to inhibit the nema- plants, and apply refined horticultural oil. the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), have rel-

101
a p p e n d i x B

atively low toxicity to mammals but are not composted. T h e entries for individual for root and crown rots once they involve
effective against a wide range of insects, plants in the Encyclopedia of Edible the whole plant. Remove and destroy the
including different types of aphids, cucum- Flowers (page 29) give specific cultural plant and correct the drainage problem.
ber beetles, and spider mites. They work in information.
a variety of different ways. Check the label Rust and black spot are fungal diseases that
for more information. N e e m is still fairly Damping off is caused by a parasitic fungus affect roses. Rust appears as orange spots on
new in use in the United States. Although that lives near the soil surface and attacks the underside of leaves. Black spot mani-
neem was thought at first to be harmless to new young plants in their early seedling fests as dark spots on leaves and canes; it
beneficial insects, studies now show that stage. It causes them to wilt and fall over can completely defoliate a plant. Plant
some parasitoid beneficial insects that feed just where they emerge from the soil. This resistant varieties if these diseases are
on neem-treated pest insects were unable to fungus thrives under dark, humid condi- prevalent in your area. Make sure the plant
survive to adulthood. tions, so it can often be thwarted by keep- has good air circulation, full sun, and ade-
ing the seedlings in a bright, well-ventilat- quate water. D o not overhead water. Prune
Pyrethrum, a botanical insecticide, is toxic ed place in fast-draining soil. infected leaves and destroy them. Plants
to a wide range of insects but has relatively will usually recover. But in some cases, such
low toxicity to most mammals and breaks Powdery mildew affects many plants, as in cool, h u m i d climates where black spot
down quickly in the presence of sunlight. including roses, bee balm, lilacs, peas, and is prevalent, letting the plant defoliate often
T h e active ingredients in pyrethrum are squash. This fungus disease appears as a seriously weakens the plant. Spraying with
pyrethins derived from chrysanthemum powdery white growth on the leaves and refined horticultural oil, liquid sulfur, or
flowers. Do not confuse pyrethrum with causes new leaves and stem tips to curl. baking soda is an effective control. Spray as
pyrethoids which are much more toxic syn- Whenever possible, plant resistant varieties. directed in "Powdery Mildew," above, and
thetics that do not biodegrade as quickly. Make sure the plant has good air circula- repeat every seven to fourteen days while
Many pyrethrums have a synergist, piper- tion, full sun, and adequate water. Powdery the problems persist.
onyl butoxide (PBO), added to increase the mildew is encouraged by fine films of
effectiveness. However, there is evidence water, such as from fog or high humidity,
that PBO may affect the h u m a n nervous and discouraged by heavy flows of water.
system. Try to use pyrethrums without In some cases, it can be washed off with
P B O added. Wear gloves, goggles, and a water from a hose; do so early in the day so
respirator when using pyrethrum. the foliage will dry quickly. Spraying with
refined horticultural oil, liquid sulfur, or
baking soda every few weeks also controls

Diseases mildew. (For baking soda spray, use 1 tea-


spoon baking soda to 1 quart w a r m water,
with 1 teaspoon insecticidal soap to help the
Plant diseases are potentially far more solution stick.) Test on a small part of the
damaging to your plants than are most plant first. With some plants, such as peas
insects. Diseases are also more difficult to and squashes, powdery mildew worsens
control because they usually grow inside toward the end of the season; it is best to
the plant, and plants do not respond with just go ahead and remove the plant.
i m m u n e mechanisms comparable to those Thoroughly clean up garden debris to help
that protect animals. Consequently, most eliminate overwintering spores.
plant-disease-control strategies feature pre-
vention rather than control. Hence, the Root rot and crown rot are common prob-
constant admonition to plant in soil with lems for many perennials. A number of dif-
good drainage. ferent fungi cause these rots; they are usu-
To keep diseases under control, it is very ally brought on by poor drainage, overwa-
important to plant the "right plant in the tering, or the crown (base) of the plant
right place." For instance, many perennials, being covered by soil, mulch, or debris.
such as lavender or sage, prefer a dry envi- T h e classic symptom of root rot is wilt-
ronment and will often develop root rot in ing—even after a rain or when a plant is
soil that is continually wet. Check the cul- well watered. Sometimes the wilting starts
tural needs of a plant before placing it in with only a few branches; other times the
your garden. Proper light, exposure, tem- whole plant wilts. Plants are often stunted
perature, fertilization, and moisture are and yellow as well. T h e diagnosis is com-
important factors in disease control. plete when the dead plant is pulled up to
Diseased plants should always be discarded, reveal rotten, black roots. There is no cure

102
resources Sources for Harris Seeds and Nursery Seeds Blum
P.O. Box 22960 H C 33 Box 2057
Seeds and Plants Rochester, N Y 14692-2960 Boise, I D 83706
Vegetable, herb, and flower seeds Catalog: $3.00; first-class
T h e Antique Rose E m p o r i u m option: $5.00
9300 Lueckemeyer Road J. L. Hudson, Seedsman Open-pollinated vegetables, herbs,
Brenam, T X 77833-6453 Star Route 2, Box 337 and heirloom edible flowers.
Catalog: $5.00 La Honda, C A 94020
Great selection of old rose culti- For catalog: P. O. Box 1058, Seeds of Change
vars, species, and disease-resistant Redwood City, C A 94064 P.O. Box 15700
roses Catalog: $1.00 Sante Fe, N M 87506-5700
Specializes in seeds of a huge Organically grown vegetable,
Chiltern Seeds variety of flowers and vegetables herb, and flower seeds
Bortree Stile
Ulverston, Cumbria Logee's Greenhouses Seed Savers Exchange
L A 12 7PB, England 141 N o r t h Street 3076 N o r t h W i n n Road
Large variety of vegetable and Danielson, C T 06239 Decorah,IA52101
flower seeds Catalog: $3.00 Membership fee: $25.00
Herb plants and seeds, ornamen- Low-income/senior/student:
T h e Cook's Garden tal perennial plants, and citrus; $20.00; In Canada: $30.00
P.O. Box 535 many unusual varieties Overseas: $40.00
Londonderry, V T 05148 Vegetable and fruit seeds.
Superior varieties of vegetables, Niche Gardens Catalog for purchasing selected
herbs, and flowers 1111 Dawson Road seeds is free to nonmembers and
Chapel Hill, N C 27516 members.
Evergreen Y. H . Enterprises Wildflowers and perennial plants
P.O. Box 17538 Select Seeds Antique Flowers
Anaheim, C A 92817 Nichols Garden Nursery 180 Stickney Road
Catalog: $2.00 U.S.; $2.50 in 1190 N o r t h Pacific Highway Union, C T 06076-4617
Canada NE Catalog: $1.00
Oriental vegetables and herbs Albany, OR 97321-4580 Specializes in species and antique
Seeds and plants of herbs, flowers, flower seeds
Flower and H e r b Exchange and vegetables; unusual varieties
3076 N o r t h W i n n Road Shepherd's Garden Seeds
Decorah,IA52101 Pinetree Garden Seeds 30 Irene Street
Membership fee: $10.00 Box 300 Tornngton, C T 06790
Heirloom flower and herb seeds N e w Gloucester, M E 04260 Quality varieties of vegetable,
Good selection of herbs, flowers, herb, and flower seeds and plants
Fox Hollow Seed Company and vegetables
P. O. Box 148 Sonoma Antique Apple
McGrann, PA 16236 Renee's Garden Nursery
Catalog: $1.00 Loo\for seed racks in better retail 4395 Westside Road
Herbs, vegetables, flowers, and nurseries. For more information Healdsburg, C A 95448
heirlooms call toll-free (888) 880-7228 Good selection of antique apples
or look for her on-line at and other fruit trees
T h e Gourmet Gardener garden.com/reneesgarden.
8650 College Boulevard Stokes Seeds, Inc.
Overland Park, KS 66210 Richters P.O. Box 548
Herbs, vegetables, and edible 357 Highway 47 Buffalo, N Y 14240
flower seeds Goodwood, Ontario Vegetables and flower seeds; large
Canada L O C I A0 selection of annual edible flower
Johnny's Selected Seeds Most extensive selection of herb seeds
Foss Hill Road seeds and plants available to
Albion, M E 04910-9731 North America Territorial Seed Company
Excellent selection of herb, P.O. Box 157
vegetable, and flower seeds Cottage Grove, O R 97424-0061

103
r e s o u r c e s

Good selection of vegetable, herb, The Royal National Rose Creasy, Rosalind. The Complete Lampe, Dr. Kenneth F. and
andflowerseeds Society Boo\ of Edible hand- Mary Ann McCann.
Chiswell Green scaping. San Francisco: AMA Handbook of
Wayside Gardens St. Albans, Hertfordshire Sierra Club Books, 1982. Poisonous and Injurious
1 Garden Lane AL2 3NR England Druitt, Liz, and Michael Shoup. Plants. Chicago:
Hodges, SC 29695 Landscaping with Antique American Medical
Plants of ornamental perennials Seed Savers Exchange Roses. Newtown, Conn.: Association of Chicago,
and shrubs 3076 North Winn Road Taunton Press, 1992. 1985.
Well-Sweep Herb Farm Decorah, IA 52101
205 Mt. Bethel Road Membership fee: $25.00 Editors of Sunset Books and Larkcom, Joy. The Salad
Port Murray, NJ 07865 Low-income/senior/student: Sunset Magazine. Sunset Garden. New York:
Catalog: $2.00 $20.00 National Garden Boo\. Viking, 1984.
No shipment to California. In Canada: $30.00 Overseas: Menlo Park, Calif.:
Extensive selection of herb seeds, $40.00 Sunset Books, 1997. McKeon, Judith C. The
plants, and dried herbs Nonprofit organization dedicated Encyclopedia of Roses: An
to saving diversity. Members join Foster, Steven, and James A. Organic Guide to Growing
White Flower Farm an extensive networ\ ofgardeners Duke. A Field Guide to and Enjoying America's
P.O. Box 50 who save and exchange vegetable Medicinal Plants — Favorite Flower.
Litchfield, CT 06759 and fruit seeds Eastern and Central North Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale
Carries a wide range ornamental America. Boston: Press, 1995.
plants and a selection of disease- Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
resistant roses Bibliography Ogden, Shepherd. Step by Step
Gilkeson, Linda, Pam Peirce, Organic Flower
Barash, Cathy Wilkinson. and Miranda Smith. Gardening. New York:
Organizations Edible Flowers from Rodale's Pest & Disease
Problem Solver: A
HarperCollins
Publishers, 1995.
Garden to Palate. Golden,
Colo.: Fulcrum Chemical-Free Guide to
American Horticulture Society
Publishing, 1993. Keeping Your Garden . Step by Step Organic
7931 East Boulevard Drive
Healthy. Emmaus, Pa.: Vegetable Gardening: The
Alexandria, VA 22308
Brown, Deni. Encyclopedia of Rodale Press, 1996. Gardening Classic Revised
To purchase The Heat Map, call
Herbs and Their Uses. and Updated. New York:
1-800-777-7931, Extension 45.
London: Dorling Hedrick, U. P., ed. Sturtevant's HarperCollins
Cost: $15.00
Kindersley, 1995. Edible Plants of the World. Publishers, 1992.
Reprint ed. New York:
The American Rose Society
Bryan, John E. and Coralie Dover Publications, 1972. Olkowski, William, Sheila
P. O. Box 30000
Castle. The Edible Daar, and Helga
Shreveport, LA 71130
Ornamental Garden. San Hill, Madalene, and Gwen Olkowski. The Gardeners
1-800-637-6534
Francisco: 101 Barclay with Jean Hardy. Guide to Common Sense
Definitely worth joining, as it can
Productions, 1974. Southern Herb Growing. Pest Control. Newtown,
direct you to rose experts in your
Fredericksburg, Tex.: Conn.: Taunton Press,
area who are knowledgeable Bubel, Nancy. The New Seed- Shearer Publishing, 1987. 1995.
about rose varieties and care for Starter's Handbook
your climate Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Hopkinson, Patricia, and Diane Oster, Maggie. Flowering Herbs.
Press, 1988. Miske, Jerry Parsons, Stanford, Conn.:
The Canadian Rose Society
Holly Shimizu. The Longmeadow Press,
10 Fairfax Crescent Cathey, Dr. H. R. Marc. Heat-
American Garden Guides: 1991.
Scarborough, Ontario MIL 1Z8 Zone Gardening: How to
Herb Gardening. New
Choose Plants That Thrive
York: Pantheon Books, -. The Rose Boo\. How to
Flower and Herb Exchange in Your Region's Warmest
1994. Grow Roses Organically
3076 North Winn Road Weather. Alexandria, Va.:
and Use Them in Over 50
Decorah, IA 52101 Time-Life Custom
Kowalchik, Claire, and Beautiful Crafts.
Membership fee: $10.00 Publishing, 1998.
William H. Hylton, ed. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale
Nonprofit organization dedicated
Rodale's Illustrated Press, 1994.
to saving diversity. Members join Carr, Anna. Rodale's Color
Encyclopedia of Herbs.
an extensive network^ ofgardeners Handbook^ of Garden
Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale
who save and exchange flower Insects. Emmaus, Pa.:
Press, 1987.
and herb seeds Rodale Press, 1979.
104
r e s o u r c e s

Peterson, Lee Allen and Roger


Tory Peterson. Field
Guide to Edible Wild
Plants: Eastern and
Central North America.
Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1982.

Philips, Roger. Wild Food.


Boston: Little, Brown,
1986.

Proctor, Rob. Annuals: Yearly


Classics for the
Contemporary Garden.
New York:
HarperCollins
Publishers, 1991.

Reilly, Ann. Par1(s Success with


Seeds. Greenwood, S. C :
Geo. W. Park Seed Co.,
1978.

Saville, Carole. Exotic Herbs.


New York: Henry Holt
and Co., 1997.

Schneider, Elizabeth.
Uncommon Fruits &
Vegetables: A
Commonsense Guide.
New York: Harper &
Row, 1986.

Shepherd, Renee. Recipes from a


Kitchen Garden. Felton,
Calif.: Shepherd's
Garden Publishing, 1987.

Smittle, Delilah, ed. Rodales


Complete Garden Problem
Solver. Emmaus, Pa.:
Rodale Press, 1997.

Walheim, Lance. The Natural


Rose Gardener. Tucson,
Ariz.: Ironwood Press,
1994.

Whealy, Diane. 1997 Flower


and Herb Exchange.
Decorah, Iowa: Seed
Saver Publications, 1997.

105
acknowledgments

M
y garden is the foundation for am most fortunate to have Gudi Riter, supporting cast: my husband, Robert,
my books, photography, and a very talented cook who developed who gives such quality technical advice
recipes. For nearly twelve many of her skills in Germany and and loving support; Nancy Favier for
months of the year, we toil to keep it France. I thank her for the help she her occasional help in the garden and
beautiful and bountiful. Unlike most provides as we create recipes and office; two edible flower mavens who
gardens—as it is a photo studio and present them in all their glory. I want are always on hand to share their
trial plot—it must look glorious, be to thank Carole Saville, who over the expertise and contribute recipes, Renee
healthy, and produce for the kitchen. years has generously shared her vast Shepherd of Renee's Garden and
To complicate the maintenance, all the knowledge of unusual plants and Cathy Barash, editor of Meredith
beds are changed at least twice a year. exotic cooking techniques; her knowl- Books; a triumvirate including Jane
Needless to say, it is a large under- edge of edible flowers is in evidence Whitfield, Linda Gunnarson, and
taking. For two decades a quartet of throughout this book. Alice Waters, of David Humphrey, who were integral
talented organic gardener/cooks have Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, is to the initial vision of this book;
not only given it hundreds of hours of to be thanked not only for opening her Kathryn Sky-Peck for providing the
loving attention, but they have also garden to me and sharing her many style and quality of the layout; and
been generous with their vast knowl- ideas on edible flowers, but for the Marcie Hawthorne for the lovely
edge of plants. Together we have continual inspiration she gives all of us drawings. Heartfelt thanks to Eric Oe)
forged our concept of gardening and who honor fresh garden produce. and to the entire Periplus staff, espe-
cooking, much of which I share with Tribute also goes to Andrea Crawford cially Deane Norton, Jan Johnson, and
you in this series of garden cookbooks. for trialing many varieties of edible Sonia MacNeil, for their help. Finally,
I wish to thank Wendy Krupnick flowers for me and sharing her studied I would like to thank my editor,
for giving the garden such a strong evaluation. Isabelle Bleecker, for her gentle guid-
foundation and Joe Queirolo for main- I thank Dayna Lane for her steady ance, attention to detail, and thought-
taining it for many years and lending it hand and editorial assistance. In addi- ful presence.
such a gentle and sure hand. For the tion to day-to-day compilations, she
last decade, Jody Main and Duncan joins me on our constant search for the
Minalga have helped me expand my most effective organic pest controls,
garden horizons. N o matter how com- superior herb varieties, and best
plex the project, they enthusiastically sources for plants.
rise to the occasion. In the kitchen, I I would also like to thank a large

106