A sumptuous book with both gardening and cookery recipes including ideas for growing and eating the flowers of roses, lavender, hyssop, nasturtiums, courgettes, sweet cicely, basil, sage, rosemary and thyme...to name just a few! It includes a fascinating history section and is teaming with many mouth watering concoctions.
Rose petal cake and rose petal sorbet are just the beginning! Try baked mushrooms topped with thyme flowers, garlic, oil and breadcrumbs, or the lightest of lunches with chive flower scrambled eggs. Creamy cowslip syllabub is another tempting idea.
Charles Campion writing in the Evening Standard on May 14th 2008 described it as the seminal reference book for the home cook.
BBC Gardener's World showed some of my ideas in October 2008.
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A FEAST OF EDIBLE FLOWERS ***
People may not know it, but many gardeners have a rich feast of Edible Flowers in their garden during the Summer months. If they grow one scented rose, a lavender plant, a thyme or mint, borage, rosemary or daylily, then they have the making of drinks, cakes, salads, savoury dishes and floral drinks…and all so simple.
Edible flowers can be found in many places in my garden with walls, trees and pergolas festooned with over 40 rambling and climbing roses; all in bloom sometime in May, June or July. They make rich pickings for the rose petal butter which fills my rose petal cakes when groups visit in June.
Meanwhile, the herbaceous borders are filled with fragrant white and lilac Hesperis matronalis (dames violet or sweet rocket), violas, borage and cornflowers, all excellent for scattering on a fruit salad or green salad or summer drinks while slightly later gaudy day lilies and yellow evening primroses flaunt their wares and are tasty additions to stir fries and pasta dishes. The wild flower meadow has been bountiful with sorrel, elderflowers and dog roses, the scent is glorious when the evenings are warm and still. In the container courtyard, I have wonderful combinations of lavender, thymes and dianthus. Their flowers are full of flavour and excellent in so many ways from roulades and cakes to savoury dishes. I also have courgettes and runner beans in pots…..all there to be cropped at will, flowers as well as vegetables, fragrant and fresh, no chemicals, no air miles.
I have been growing and eating these plants for years as from childhood my mother would crystallise primroses and violets for our Easter Cake. Ten years ago, whilst writing my book called ‘Edible Flowers’, I researched old recipe books in the British Library to discover ways we used flowers in the past. I came across many ideas which were common place in the seventeenth century but are now largely forgotten. They loved to use rose petals, clove scented dianthus, cowslips, marigolds (Calendula officinalis), violets, daisies, etc. Rosemary flowers were another of their great favourites. These were all growing in Europe, while from the New World of the Americas came evening primrose, nasturtiums, sunflowers, dahlias, petunias and impatiens and from the East came peonies, water lilies, chrysanthemums and hibiscus to name just a few.
With cultural exchange what a rich list of flowers can now be used in the twenty first century. The choice is so great that I thought that instead of scattering them around the garden I would have a special Edible Flower Border dedicated to them, so this spring I have planted a new 14m long border and filled it with the most scented shrub roses I could find, including Rosarie de L’Hay, Gertrude Jekyll, Harlow Carr, Gentle Hermione etc. Around the front I planted a fringe of white, pink and blue lavenders, edged with dianthus and thymes. Further back, amongst the roses, pineapple mint, bronze fennel, sages, hyssop and rosemary can all be found with sunflowers, evening primrose, sweet cicely, hesperis, phlox, begonias, dahlias, daylilies, cornflowers and marigolds vying for space as well. Different chives, sweet woodruff, cowslips fill the back seats with primroses and violets joining them in the autumn.
This great joyous border sits right beside the orchard trees of apples, pears, plums and gages and so is an extension of the idea of utility planting. I make jellies and jams in the autumn from this produce. Why not have a pantry next door of living edible flowers for the summer; all good for flavouring oils, vinegars and jellies.
Lavender and apple jelly is one of my favourites, but then I love lavender and lemon drizzle cake, lavender flapjacks, lavender and gin ice cream, and rose geranium roulade. There are so many ideas to try, sweet as well as savoury. Stuffed thyme mushrooms are full of flavour; roasted red peppers with sweet cicely has to be one of the best. But then lavender chicken is great too, and so is a simple salad with beetroots and nasturtiums! Or how about a cool Pimms on a hot day with borage or mint flowers…. Cheers!!!
BBC's Gardener's World came with Sarah Raven to talk about my edible flower border and the use of the flowers in the kitchen!
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Delicious Rose macaroons
Dreamy Rose petal cake
Lavender and lemon drizzle cake
Scrummy Lavender flapjacks
Violet chocolate cake
Yummy Marigold and Carrot Cake
Rose petal cake Recipe Mugs in Fine Bone China
£9.99 plus P&P
Brimming with excellent tried and tested ideas for modern, longterm containers as well as vibrant seasonal displays. Very good for beginners with a practical recipe section for planting and maintenance. But great for those who are more experienced with a wealth of tips and alternatives.
Kathy's fourth book on the subject, after a gap of fifteen years, brings Container Gardening up to date with a wealth of ideas using longterm perennial herbaceous plants, as well as longterm plantings of bulbs and shrubs, shapely succulents plus fantastic ornamental grasses.
Vegetables containers, herbs, edible flowers as well as shorterm seasonal displays also make a vital contribution.