When planning all of our landscape (or internal planting schemes) we try and make sure they are working as hard as possible for our clients. Multi functioning spaces and companion planting is right up there on our lists, as is edible planting.
For some schemes this is the planning of a vegetable bed, or orchard, or nuttery, or even greenhouse schemes. For others a smaller focus is required, with edible planting being planned into vertical green walls, green roof areas and in the simplest forms, planters and window boxes.
There is something very comforting about being able to wander into your garden or lean out of your window and pluck something to add to your meal, make into a tea or even just garnish a sunday chocolate cake.
And even though it is still pretty chilly outside there are a few plants which are producing the most stunning, and edible little flowers, right now, and are available very readily from all garden centres.
Primroses usually flower in the very earliest parts of Spring, and here in Brighton we already have ours out now. The palest of yellows, the primrose flowers are brilliant candied (coated with egg white and dusted with sugar and left to dry) or added to salads and onto cakes just as they are. They are great as edible additions to anything where a touch of Spring is required.
Violas have to be one of my favourite of the edible flowers and we make sure we always have a good selection of these beautiful little plants around. With the huge wealth of colours available there is always going to be something to suit your own scheme, and they are just wonderful atop the darkest of chocolate cakes as a naturally coloured decoration. I particularly like the bi-coloured flowers, but everything from white to darkest purple black are available so really, take your pick.
Pansies are the bigger and brasher cousin of the delicate viola, but the flowers can be eaten in exactly the same way. Try adding a single bloom to top a cupcake, or to float on drink. Petals can also be torn into salads to add a great bit of colour and interest as well.
Using edible flowers is not rocket science, just make sure you correctly identify ANYTHING you are planning on eating before you shovel it in. But take the time to experiment and these little additions really can bring a dish alive – plus from a horticultural point of view, the plant will produce more flowers for you, so a double bonus.