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Blossoms on Your Plate

Are you ready to elevate your gardening game to a whole new level of deliciousness? Well, we’re about to dive into the vibrant world of edible flowers that will not only make your garden pop but also your plate!  Many of them are easy to grow, forgiving of rookie mistakes, and will reward you with an explosion of colors and flavors.

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus): These deep burgundy to buttery yellow blooms have a peppery kick, perfect as a spicy twist to salads, tacos, and avocado toasts. Bonus: They’re easy to grow, thriving in poor soil and other neglect. These flowers are high in vitamin C. The entire plant is edible- so try out the lily pad-like leaves also! Deer resistant.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Often called “poor man’s saffron,” the golden petals of calendula add a subtle saffron flavor to rice dishes and soups. They’re sun lovers and can tough it out in the Rocky Mountain soil. This flower is also known for its skin-healing properties, consider making a toner with calendula flowers. Deer are typically not a fan of these flowers.

Pansies (Viola tricolor): These adorable flowers come in an array of colors and have a slightly sweet, grassy taste. Scatter them over desserts after dipping them in water and then sugar for a delicate but sweet touch. Or freeze them in ice cubes for fancy drinks. Pansies are cold-hardy and can withstand our unpredictable mountain weather. We had a pot of pansies survive the entire winter, even when temperatures dipped below 20 degrees!

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Known for its calming aroma, lavender adds a delicate floral flavor to desserts, teas, and even cocktails. It thrives in well-drained soil, making it a great match for rocky gardens. We have several varieties that will survive year-round in our nursery area. Look for varieties such as Munstead, Hidot Blue, and Phenomenal. Due to the fragrance of these flowers, deer typically leave them alone.

Rose (Rosa spp.): Beyond being a symbol of romance, roses can be used in various culinary creations. Make tea with their dried petals, infuse honey with their fragrance, or toss the petals into desserts.  The rose hips that are produced in the fall are also edible and high in vitamin C. You can make tea from the rosehips as well. We have several varieties of roses, some more bred for their blooms, others are cultivated to be hardy for our mountainous climate.

Borage (Borago officinalis): With its brilliant blue flowers, borage adds a refreshing cucumber taste to salads, drinks, and desserts. The best part? Borage is a self-seeding annual, making it a low-maintenance addition to your garden. The pollinators will also feast on these blooms! Deer typically avoid this plant.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): Beyond being a bedtime tea, chamomile flowers can be used in salads or infused into syrups that go well in cocktails, over ice cream, or on pancakes. These sun-loving plants will thrive in our bright sun. Deer tend to avoid this plant due to its fragrance.

Dianthus (Dianthus spp.): Also known as pinks, or sometimes recognized as carnations, these flowers have a mild clove-like flavor. Add them to fruit salads, and desserts, or dry them and add them to various spice blends (za’atar, is a great example). Dianthus are hardy perennials, returning year after year. They are also deer-resistant.

Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis): Hibiscus flowers make a delightful and tropical addition to beverages, jams, and desserts. We carry gorgeous hardy hibiscus that will winter as a perennial shrub. Hibiscus also has high levels of vitamin C and is an excellent herb for overall health. 

Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.): Despite their fleeting beauty, daylilies are edible and offer a slightly sweet flavor. Stuff the blossoms with a soft cheese, or add them to stir-fries. Do your research on whether you have a daylily, before digging into a meal. Not all species of lilies are edible. These hardy perennials are a reliable choice in our climate.

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra):  Fragrant elderflowers can be used to make refreshing beverages like elderflower cordial or add a subtle floral note to desserts. Elderflowers come from elderberry bushes, so you will also be able to eat elderberries if the birds don’t beat you to it! These shrubs are well-suited for the mountain environment, making them a great choice for your garden.

So, whether you’re a seasoned horticulturist or a budding green thumb, dive into the world of edible flowers and turn your garden into a culinary masterpiece. After all, why just stop and smell the roses when you can toss them in a dish too? Happy gardening and bon appétit!