Yes, You Can Have it All: Creating a beautiful and edible garden!
We all dream of having the beautiful, lush flower gardens that we see in magazines. But practicality is also part of gardening; we want to grow fresh food for our families too. Well, you can have both! Think of using flowers to supplement your meals and liven up your landscape.
Pansies and violas in your salad?
Yes, they are edible and add a slightly sweet grassy flavor to your dishes. There are several that you can plant both in beds and containers. Pansy ‘Ultima Morpho F1’, Viola ‘Skippy XL’ Red-Gold F1’, Viola ‘Endurio Sky Blue Martien™ F1’, Viola ‘Rain Blue and Purple F1’, and Viola ‘Skippy XL Plum-Gold’ hybrid all give you a wide variety of colors throughout the spring season. In milder areas, some of them can even be perennial! Another fun thing to do is to sugar them by dipping them in frothy egg whites and superfine sugar. They make a great addition to any dessert including cakes and cookies.
How to make sugared pansies
- 1 egg white, room temperature (always use pasteurized eggs) or powdered egg whites or meringue powder
- 1/2 c. of Superfine sugar (or use granulated sugar ground in a food processor)
- Approx. 2 c. of Pansy flowers, pesticide-free and thoroughly dried
Looking for a nice border, ore more color, for your flower garden?
Consider using the lettuce ‘Sandy’, a loose salad head oak leaf lettuce with frilly dark green leaves. You can cut the leaves when they are small as needed or let them mature into a loose head. It also is a great addition to a container as a foliage accent.
You can’t beat Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’! Known for its wide variety of colored stalks including red, orange, violet and yellow, it’s edible and beautiful.
For those who like a little spice in their life and in their food…
Think about a container with Mizuna ‘Red Kingdom’ which is a Japanese mustard, combined with Nasturtium ‘Baby Rose’. ‘Red Kingdom’ adds some spicy flavor, while nasturtium are known for their peppery flavor. The best part of ‘Baby Rose’ is both the flowers and leaves are edible, plus their compact habit means less “flower flopping” with their blooms remaining upright throughout the season.
Edible flowers can be grown in your landscape too!
Think of using Dianthus ‘Corona Cherry Magic F1’, Dianthus ‘Supra Purple F1’, Dianthus ‘Interspecific Supra Pink F1’ and my personal favorite, Dianthus ‘Jolt Pink F1′ as part of your edible garden. Dianthus petals have a sweet, clove-like taste ideal for salads as well as sweet items like cakes and ice cream. Bonus! Dianthus Jolt Pink F1 produces a flower head that is more like a miniature bouquet providing a great pop of color in the garden.
Then there are the edibles that look great in containers.
Make an edible container easily when you plant Tomato ‘Lizzano F1’, Pepper ‘Cayenneta F1’ and Basil ‘Persian’. Persian Basil is a vigorous herb with great flavor and large leaves, making this container combo a complete salad in a container! Don’t forget, both herb leaves and their flowers are edible.
Quick and Delicious Cheese Ball
- 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
- 2 Cayenetta F1 peppers finely minced, seeds removed if you like it a little milder
- 5 leaves of Basil ‘Persian’ finely julienned
- 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic depending on your taste
- 1/3 cup of finely shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese
Expand your garden and food experience by growing and adding new flowers and edibles to your garden and food!
Denise Schreiber, AAS Judge, was the Greenhouse Manager and horticulturist for Allegheny County Parks for twenty-seven years. She supervised growing of approximately 300,000 plants in different greenhouse locations for the county parks system. Those greenhouses produced the majority of the plants for over 12,000 acres of parkland. Besides supervising the greenhouses and plantings, Denise is a member of the GardenComm formerly known as GWA, The Association for Garden Communicators and writes monthly columns, is a national speaker and is the author of the book “Eat Your Roses.” Denise joined All-America Selections as a Bedding Plant and Flower Judge in 2014. She was a judge for the Ornamental Seed Trial and is now a judge for the Vegetative Flower Trial.