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Edible Flowers

We are well known for our chevre gorgously decorated with flower petals. You can eat these petals! These varieties of calendula, borage, viola, salvia, pinks and cornflower have centuries of kitchen and medicinal history.

Of course, your children should never sample plants unless they are absolutely sure the plant is edible, and always consult a medical professional before preparing or taking an edible herb remedy.

Admire our edible flowers and vegetable gardens from the hayloft balcony. You probably know that these flowers are mostly annuals or short-lived perennials, easy to grow in full coastal sun, and pollinated by bees, moths or butterflies.

We make fresh flower arrangements for the loft and shop every week, and love decorating the barn table for weddings.

Borage

Borago officinalis has startlingly lovely blue star-shaped flowers, which become deep blue grown on stonier soils. Charming by the wayside, it is not a plant for the border unless you are a more resolute gardener than us, as it sets seed promiscuously and mildews disappointingly in late summer.

Both the flowers and the leaves taste of cucumber, and you may use the finely chopped leaves as you would any other rustic green, such as chard or nettles.

Borage greens are a classic component of the English summertime drink of Pimms; the flowers are delightful frozen in ice cubes. Borage is a remedy for melancholy, with or without the Pimms.

Calendula

Calendula officinalis, or Pot Marigold, is a well-known versatile herb and domestic remedy, and rampant in the garden! You will see the flowers tightly closed at dusk and in the damp, but otherwise as a vibrant bedspread of gold and orange.

Both the leaves and the petals are edible, with a mildly peppery taste. "Poor Man’s Saffron" will tint your food, and allegedly your hair!, a golden yellow.

Calendula is the main ingredient in many external skin treatments, for bites, stings, sprains, warts, varicose veins and diaper rash. Not all marigolds are edible.

Dianthus

Dianthus chinensis, or Chinese pink, is much used in Chinese herbal medicine.

The flowers have a clove scent, and a sweet edible nectar; the whole plant apparently stimulates the digestive and urinary systems.

Johnny Jump-Up

Viola tricolor, or heartsease, looks like a tiny pansy, with enchanting yellow, white and purple flowers.

The young leaves and flower buds may be eaten raw or cooked; the leaves will thicken a soup, and the flowers are fun to candy and look gorgeous as a garnish.

Viola tricolor has been used to treat epilepsy, asthma and eczema

Pineapple sage

Salvia elegans is a hardy perennial here on the California coast. We cut the plants to the ground in spring to enjoy four feet of growth and the spectacular scarlet-red flowers in autumn.

The flowers bring a seasonal flash of hummingbird color to our chevre; the fresh leaves have a distinct flavor of pineapple.

Try adding a few tablespoons of chopped young leaves and flowers to your pound cake recipe.

Cornflower

Centaura cyanus was a common weed of corn fields. The intense blue petals retain their color well, making them ideal for pot-pourri and as an early blue dye for linen. If the "Bachelor's button" in young men's coats faded, they were unlucky in love!

They are a magnificent contrast to calendula on our cheese, and gorgeous in spring bouquets.

Cornflowers may be used in shampoo, and to salve tired eyes, but apparently work best on blue eyes!

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