Looking for a convenient, easy summer garden project? This garden will look pretty and taste nice, too. Sarah Tottle, a Business Psychologist, Psychotherapist and Coach, says: “Flowers help boost our energy levels, providing colour to our lives. Just think of the feeling you get when someone gives you that big bunch!
“Flowers provide joy, a positive emotion that is linked to creativity. According to the Broaden and Build model, positive emotions such as happiness and joy have an impact on our neurotransmitters that in turn help boost our creativity. Anything that brings joy- like flowers do- have the beneficial addition of boosting creativity.”
Here are some of our favourite edible summer flowers, herb flowers and plants for you to enjoy.
An edible flowering herb best described as having a milder onion flavour. Sprinkle fresh chopped chives over top of summer salads, as a garnish on egg dishes, and in saucy dishes over fish.
Thyme, and lemon thyme in particular, smell amazing and impart a truly unique flavour to many summer recipes and foods. Try your freshly grown lemon thyme with a slow-roasted whole chicken.
Other edible herb flowers we love are mint, rosemary (below), basil, chive (above) and lavender (below). You can cook them in butter, create olive oil infusions, or add nuance and flair to your repertoire of homemade cocktails.
The blue variety of edible flower sometimes sprouts as pink or purple as well. A very light flavour reminiscent of cucumber makes it excellent for summer cocktails, salads, and pate.
Expert tip: you can also freeze edible borage into ice cubes for summer garden parties or romantic dinners at home.
A sweet and somewhat heady flavour, great to combine with honey, vinegar or sugar in sweet treats, like cakes, or add whole sprigs to garnish and round out roasted lamb, poultry, and pork. Tsuyoshi Inagaki from Kamikoto adds: “For plants that grow in the summer, lavender, though technically a herb, is an always popular and very presentable bloom to use in cooking, although not one that people would always assume is edible. Both aesthetically and taste-wise, it can go well with cakes or desserts, which goes well with picnics in the warm and sunny months. It’s also important to take lavender from the garden, preferably not a florist as these are purely for presentation and may not be safe to eat.”
Mesclun salad greens
Mesclun encompasses a wide variety of greens, including arugula, endive, baby spinach, and even mache, radicchio, chard, mustard, and dandelion greens. Tastes range from earthy (spinach) to bitter and spicy (mustards, dandelion, radicchio). Mix and match. See what you like best for your palate.
Classic among herbs and edible gardens, rosemary is a hardy shrub with a sweet and woodsy aroma. A sprig of rosemary is excellent cocktail garnish. It also complements poultry and recipes calling for tomatoes, like salads and sauces.
As well as the examples we’ve listed above, Semone Noel from Gastronomer, says: “Something that caught my attention recently was microgreens. Yes, I am aware that eating your greens is good for your health, but microgreens were definitely an interesting find. I really wanted to find out if there is any difference between microgreens and fully-grown greens and the answer is an astounding, yes!
Jane Clarke, content writer at Fantastic Gardeners Melbourne states that “as long as roses are grown organically and not treated or sprayed with any chemicals the petals are edible. In fact, Roses are full of vitamin C, pectin and citric acid. Consuming the rose plant in the form of a tea is an amazing way to get the full health spectrum of the plant.”
Sandy McKinley, Owner of Acre of Roses, adds: “Blooming for 2018 is the floral food trend with edible rose petals front and centre. This is in part due to the exquisite fragrant flavours of middle eastern cuisine, where rose flavours are quite pronounced. Also, in general, they are being used in innovative ways in syrups for sparkling drinks and hot toddies, and even the health conscious with probiotic rose petal kefir preferred for its strong Vitamin C levels. Given they are also repeat bloomers (flowering from Spring through Autumn) they are available in abundance.
“The versatility of the rose as an edible flower is that, depending on the type of rose, the differing flavours that are extracted. The English garden rose Abraham Darby has a rich fruity fragrance flavour, whereas the glorious red Hybrid Tea Mr Lincoln has strong velvety damask notes.”
“Microgreens are the phase that happens after a sprout is formed, but before the leaves fully matures. Isn’t it fascinating that every phase in a plants life can hold different benefits for our bodies? A food study found that microgreens have 4-6 times the nutritional content than matured greens. If you would like to try out some microgreens and incorporate these into your next meals, here is a list of great ones to kick off this journey:
- Red Russian Kale
- Frisee lettuce
- Baby spinach
- Mustard greens
- Pea shoots
- Turnip greens
- Beet greens
“There are many more microgreen varieties you can find, and you may have to speak to your local suppliers to find out what is available.”