Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flowering Food - Spring's late blush

Spring may have another couple weeks to go but with the sweltering weather we have been having, the blooms are opening fast.

Rose buds are swelling and the Rosa rugosas have burst in much of the neighbourhood. I missed the first two blooms but below is a promise. Not only is this very hardy, disease resistant shrub attractive in early summer but they bear large, scarlet hips that remain on the shrub constrasting with their golden fall foliage. Ubiquitious in low maintenance, commercial plantings, they are a thorny, suckering groundcover, that is useful in areas you would like people to walk around.

Wouldn't you know it that I went to take a picture between blooms?

Just planted nearby is its dimunitive cousin, the strawberry. This time in a deep shade of pink. A running variety, it also acts as a groundcover. The floral display may not be long lived but heck, it's only a preview for the big berry show!

I think the variety is 'Red Flame' or something like that and admit I bought it for the flower colour so I have no idea if it is everbearing (probably) or June bearing. I find that most nurseries sell the all-season ones as it gives people the impression that they will be getting more. I like to have a good percentage of June bearers though so I can really indulge.

Continuing with the ruby theme, red valerian - Centranthus ruber - blooms a shocky magenta/red. Along with English daisy, this is one of my new favourite early salad greens. It has a reputation for self seeding and I hope it is warranted as it is lovely in drifts.

Pretty and tasty. Good combo.

Salsify - Tragopogon porrifolius - like morning glory, saves its show for the early risers. This plant is edible from its buds to its roots though they are said to turn woody after flowering.


I did get a blossom in full bloom but this picture just captivated me more with its petals just about uncurled.

Culinary thyme is an easy addition to any well drained garden. They have been long used as a decorative with low growing varieties making up patch works in place of lawn. There are types with wooly leaves, golden splashes and silver edges. Along with a backdrop of thymol, the flavour varies with floral or citrus hints. Richters Herbs have a good selection of Thyme


Delicate flowers abuzz with bugs.

One of my favourite edible landscaping plants is seakale - Crambe maritima. It produces edible 'asparagus' shoots in the spring, the leaves are edible though slightly tougher than kale, the immature heads can be eaten like broccoli. However, after seeing the beauty of this plant, you may have a hard time harvesting. I grow two varieties. The traditional Lily White used in the kitchen and the species which has purplish leaves. Use as a specimen plant or to bring contrast to plants with lighter textured leaves. It prefers well drained soil in full sun.


Here's authentic urban for you. My crappy car in the background.

Let's depart from the showy for a moment, to look at Good King Henry - Chenopodium bonus-henricus. Also eaten for its spring shoots, the flowers are not breathtaking but they sure are interesting. The tyical arrowshaped leaves of this goosefoot family member would make a nice foil for a short flowering plant or one with bare knees. It is commonly suggested that it be placed at the back of the border to hide its rangy nature but I find it not unattractive.

Loopy lines of green. These may have tipped over from flowering to seeding.

Back to shades of pink, I would describe this as a borderline edible as it is only the flowers that are used but Dianthus earns its place in the garden by having plenty of those and making a nice grey mat groundcover. The bitter white base and the calyx should be removed before eating.


Speaking of borderline edibles, here is Dame's Rocket - Hesperis matronalis - in the background behind a magnificent perennial kale, showing why people tend not to eradicate this weed from their yards and also why it is occasionally confused with phlox. The former having four petals and the later five.


Dame's Rocket is the purple flowers floating in the background.

Chives are a lovely companion with roses, often blooming at the same time. Alliums release chemicals that are supposed to deter many rose pests. They make a nice edge plant.


There was a buzzy little bee that would not cooperate for his closeup but here are the attracting flowers.

I thought my Turnip Rooted Chevril - Chaerophyllum bulbosum - had bit the dust so was happy to see it return this spring and hopeful that it would flower and produce seeds. What I did not expect was that it would turn out to be such a looker. It's not so much the flowers which are typical of the carrot family but the 4 foot, sturdy, purplish stems and strikingly cut foliage. Only the root is edible. The pretty foliage is not.


Umbels opening on turnip rooted chervril

Anything tasty looking pretty in your garden?


Daphne said...

My dianthus, chives and johnny-jump-ups are blooming too. Sadly my English thyme bit the dust during the winter. Poor thing. The French thyme barely survived. I really didn't think it was such a hard winter.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I love eating the greens and flowers from my garden. Violets, malva moschata and nasturtium are some of my favourites.

Anonymous said...

I’m cutting chives flowers and keep them as a flower arrangement on my kitchen table.
Beautiful picture of Dianthus.

Ali said...

I bought some sea kale seeds this spring after reading about it somewhere, so glad to see it in your garden! I like the look of the Good Kind Henry, too.

RE the rosa rugosa, is there a variety preferred for hips for team and jelly?

Rhizowen said...

I'm impressed that you can get red valerian to overwinter in your climate - it grows on every wall and cliff near the sea around here. Do you find it somewhat bitter?

Ottawa Gardener said...

Rhizowen: Your comment got me looking up the hardiness of Red Valerian and I was surpised to see that it was only borderline here. Must be the good snow cover. I see it sold here at nurseries? I'll have to watch how long it lasts.

Ottawa Gardener said...

Ali: Not really. I like the R. rugosas all pretty much the same. I'm sure there are superior cultivars but none have really stood out for me. Seakale is such a great plant. Hope you enjoy it. Did you get Lily White?