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Growing edible stuff is wildly rewarding because we reintroduce ourselves into the food circle, becoming part of where our food comes from. It’s amazing to sit down and eat a salad freshly picked from the garden or indulge in a gluttony of homegrown tomato sandwiches. What a wonderful problem it is to eat refrigerator pickles until we are sick of them!
Of course, it’s also rewarding to grow ornamental gardens, those places we can sit and just soak in the color and aromas of all the flowers. We can watch the bees and butterflies and hummingbirds dancing betwixt them, bewitched by the sweet pollen and dazzled by the endless buffet. Hey, that’s some wildly rewarding stuff, too.
Alliums are a popular flower to include in ornamental gardens. The form colorful little pom-pom blooms that pollinators just love. Allium is a fancy way of saying onion family. These flowers are totally edible.
Borage is a pretty plant with fuzzy green leaves and sparkling blue flowers. Both are edible and taste a bit like a cross between cucumber and radish. Bees and pollinators love borage.
Calendula is a great medicinal flower, and it is often called poor man’s saffron when used in cooking. It is the tastiest flower on this list, but the petals are good color in salads. The leaves can work as salad greens or leafy greens in cooked dishes.
Carnations, like many flowers, have a strong, spicy flavor that is reminiscent of clove. When eating carnations, you’ll want to remove the petals from the overly bitter base. They can be eaten raw in salads, used in sautés, or candied for desserts.
Often shortened to simply mums, chrysanthemums—petals and, on certain species, leaves—are edible, but the different varieties can provide vastly different flavors, from sweet to spicy to bitter. Mums are awesome because they are fall flowers and around when other flowers are gone.
Sometimes called bachelors buttons, cornflowers have pretty blue flowers, and they are part of the daisy family. It is used medicinally for a host of ailments. But, for our purposes, the little flowers have a flavor akin to sweet cucumber.
Daylilies are wildly edible, with the buds, flowers, and tubers being tasty treats. However, the same does not go for lilies, so it’s important to be careful here. In reality, the flower buds and the tubers are the prized culinary parts of the daylily.
Gladiolus grows in a variety of colors and puts out some of the most remarkable blooms in any flower garden. The petals are edible, though a little bland. However, after removing the anthers, the full blooms work wonderfully for stuffing, a la squash blossoms.
Hollyhocks are great, tall additions to flower gardens, easily growing over six feet high. Amazingly, the entire plant is edible, including the root, leaves, and flowers. It is also used medicinally as are other members of the mallow family.
Hostas are great ornamental plants because they have large leaves, remarkable flowers, and tolerate shade. Being a fan of shadier spots allows us to grow hosta where other plants might not. Even better, we can eat the young shoots in the spring.
Marigolds are great for flowers gardens or vegetable gardens. They have beautiful blooms, and they are also good for repelling garden pests. The flowers have a hint of citrus and a spec of spice.
Nasturtiums are another great flower for ornamental and vegetable gardens. The flowers are edible, as are the leaves and seeds. The flowers and leaves are suggestive of arugula, and the seeds are often pickled and substituted for capers.
Pansies are commonly eaten in salads or candied for desserts. For some, pansies can be a bit moody to grow from seed, but a nice thing about pansies is that they bloom through the winter. That makes some nice color for winter meals.
Rose of Sharon
This flowering plant is a tree rather than an herb, so it can provide some blooms and excitement higher up in the flower garden. Its young leaves can be eaten, and its flowers are nice in salads or for making tea.
Roses are edible plants, both for the flowers and the fruit, rosehips. They are, of course, beloved for their beautiful flowers, as well as the alluring aroma. But, roses are most definitely cultivated as food, too.
Sunflowers are fantastic inclusions in flower gardens and vegetable gardens. Of course, we know the seeds are edible. But, it doesn’t stop there. The petals can be eaten and the buds can be prepared like artichoke hearts.
Tulips are one of the most recognizable flowers, but very few of us know that we can eat them. The young flowers can be great color for salads and such, and they make great cups for serving sweets. It’s best to use them raw.
Wild violets are a great edible weed to eat, but there are delicious cultivars as well. Wild violets can easily be transplanted to the flower garden where they can (and will, so be careful) act as a groundcover plant. The leaves and flowers are very tasty.
When eating flowers, be sure that you know exactly what plant you have, and second-check its edibility. Furthermore, it’s important not to eat flowers that have been treated with agrochemicals.
- 7 Wonderful Edible Flowers to Grow in Your Garden
- A Quick Guide to Edible Flowers
- Make Your Food Look Super Pretty With This Edible Flower Guide
- 10 Edible Flower Recipes
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