There's nothing quite as lovely and inviting as a bundle of fresh-cut blooms gracing the family meal table. I love them so much that I started my own little roadside business selling fresh-cut flowers and persuaded — possibly begged, maybe even nagged — my dear and gracious husband to expand my garden plots into his lush green grass to accommodate more posies. It's incredible how a bouquet of flowers on the table can make even leftovers feel special. But flowers aren't just another pretty face at the table. Many varieties of flowers can please our taste buds as well.
Blossoms like lavender or rose can add a heady floral tone to some of our favorite beverages or comfort foods. The deliciously tart hibiscus flower will not only make a dish more savory, but can also add a glorious pink hue to any dish it's added to. The vibrant color and peppery flavor of the nasturtium makes it an excellent addition to salads. And the light flavor of the sweet pansy flower makes it adaptable to a wide variety of dishes.
It's such a joy to stroll through my gardens out in the fresh air nipping clippings of herbs and vegetables and then topping off my garden trug with a handful of gorgeous blooms including some that I find growing wild in my yard. Not only is the food I'll be putting on our table that day going to taste delicious and provide homegrown nutrition, but it will also be outstandingly beautiful. (Only enjoy wild flowers that haven't been exposed to poisonous lawn chemicals, and avoid wildflowers that grow beside roadways as they are often exposed to harsh chemicals that are harmful if ingested.)
My flowers have also been a creative and safe way to decorate birthday cakes. I'm not so skilled with the piping of icing into fancy details on my children's birthday cakes, but I do have some skill with floral arrangement. It's important to me that I can make my children their very own special "mama-made" cake to celebrate their days. Fresh flowers help me accomplish this with more brilliant colors and variety than I could ever hope to create with icing. My oldest daughter is a late-March baby, so pansies usually top her cake. My youngest is a June baby, which means the options are excessive, and let me be honest, I have way too much fun arranging the floral spray atop her cake. For those with winter birthdays, dried flowers can be mixed into the icing or sprinkled atop to create just as beautiful an effect.
Most of these flowers are very easy to grow or purchase! Though, if you have even the smallest little porch pot, I would highly encourage you to grow some happy blooms of your very own. If you fancy something pretty on your table aside from the bouquet, make your flower choices edible ones and reap the sweet double-reward of attractive and scrumptious flower gardening. Here's a list of some of our favorite edible flowers:
• Zucchini blossoms
• Flowers from many varieties of herbs including: mint, dill, thyme, chives, cilantro, etc.
There are many more than those that I've listed. Do some research and discover the vast array of edible blossoms out there. But please remember that while there are many varieties of flowers out there that are delicious and edible, there are also a great deal that are toxic or poisonous as well. As with anything involving food, it's important to educate yourself and your family to know the difference. There are many online resources that are helpful and some great literature available on the subject as well. Be safe, and enjoy your delicious bouquet!
Ashten Swartz lives on a small farm with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, and three rabbits. She enjoys reading and cooking with fresh ingredients from her garden.