Wouldn’t it be nice to have a floral display that’s edible, something that doesn’t look like a humble vegetable which seems to have no other purpose in life than to be eaten or be fodder for slugs and caterpillars of the cabbage white butterflies. To be edible, it doesn’t mean to say they are uninteresting. Some flowers are edible and can be added to salads or courgette flowers can be fried.
There are many of my plants in the above photo but I wanted to show that nice as it is to have row upon row of cabbages and potatoes, they aren’t all that colourful and they don’t really fill the need for a smaller more decorative display. In the green pot, the Nemesia has died off but this is when Nasturtiums come into their own. They just seem to fill the whole pot and keep going. Also in the green pot is Indian Mint, (Satureja douglasii). There are only a few wisps of it showing but it can send out much longer trailing stems with little white flowers at leaf joint. This is when you can harvest the leaves for a refreshing cup of tea. It’s smell is described as awesome, and I would agree.
Rosemary in the pot, bottom left is easily recognisable and makes a nicer alternative to a little conifer. The conifer would be a big disappointment with roast lamb, but the Rosemary is just made for it. In the long trough, are two Arctic Raspberries (Rubus arcticus) specifically suited for northern hemispheres. It only grows about a foot high and is thornless. The small dark red berries are like small brambles. It’s more of a nibbling fruit rather than an all-in-one harvest as it produces some fruit throughout the summer. There are two tiny magenta-coloured flowers on it at the moment and I had some fruit earlier in the summer. It can also be used for ground cover.
Above the trough, there are two grey/green plants, the longer finer stemmed one is Pipiche, (Porophyllum tagetoidesa) a Mexican coriander. It has a lovely but unusual taste, described as lemony-cilantro with overtones of anise. Apparently very nice with beans and tacos but can also be used with meats and cheese. The rounder leaved plant is an Oyster Plant (Mertensia Maritima). The name Oyster plant is given to a surprisingly large number of plants including Bears Breeches (Acanthus mollis), Moses-in-the-cradle (Rhoeo Spathacea) and they couldn’t be more different from each other. My Oyster Plant is common on stony beaches but will apparently grow anywhere. A bite of their leaf and there is a mild seafood taste although apparently it’s the roots that taste of oysters.
Above the Nasturtiums is the Chilean Guava aka Strawberry Myrtle (Ugni molinae ‘Flambeau’). They were reputed to be Queen Victoria’s favourite. A bit like blueberries for size and shape but taste of strawberries. There was a whole branch of the little shrub covered in flowers and I was so looking forward to tasting the berries, however, my neighbour’s dog got in and broke the flowering branch. Thankfully it’s supposed to be frost hardy as I’ll need to wait until next year to try the fruit, unless there is a little flower hidden, I haven’t noticed. The dog meantime has had her card marked!
The tall plant in the blue pot is a Cocktail Kiwi (Actinidia arguta) and according to the James Wong website, they come from the frozen wastes of Siberia, and in that case they might stand a chance in the frozen wastes of Scotland. I’ve had my plant about two years but somehow it never seemed to get much further than Spring when all the leaves got frosted and died. I thought it was dead but even if they look dead, I am always reluctant to throw anything out until it’s had it’s last chance. In this case I put it in the greenhouse over winter, no more than a stick and was about to discard it when I saw the beginnings of little leaf buds. It’s not hanging with bunches of fruits like grapes as described elsewhere, but I have four little fruits and the plant is looking reasonably healthy.
These are just some of the little plants which are not only edible but ornamental and could hold their own when it comes to pot plants at the front doors, daring to be different from the neighbours. Sweet Peas are a favourite flower in gardens but they are toxic, the first photo shows my sweet peas and an Achocha starting to grow up the arch, my effort to try to get the best of both worlds by growing them together, but you can also get a pretty display with Fava Beans. You can plant plenty of beans, enjoy eating bean shoots but leave some to mature and you’ll get a lovely display of flowers with beans at the end of it.
Bean pods also come in a wide array of colours, the orange/pink pods of Barlotto, French beans come not only in green but yellow, violet, orange and bi-colours. It’s time to think outside the box, or should I say pod.
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