By Megan Slack
Celebrated gardener Sarah Raven predicts that edible flowers will be among the biggest garden trends of the summer – and we can certainly understand why. According to Sarah, these flowers are set to take over our gardens – just in time for the season of overdue outdoor dinner parties.
As a gardener and cook, Sarah Raven knows a thing or two about combining garden produce with culinary delights, and this trend allows us to do exactly that, at a time when we need our gardens and kitchens to look their best.
We've already compiled a guide to edible flowers, but just in case you need any more convincing, take a read of what Sarah has to say.
What are the benefits of growing edible flowers?
In her discussion of the trend, Sarah Raven discussed her relationship with edible garden produce and highlighted the mental and physical benefits of growing your food.
'I've long loved gardening, particularly for production, so that I can harvest something to bring inside. Picking anything, whether flowers, vegetables, salads, or herbs, is easy and instantly rewarding,' Sarah begins.
'We all care now about food and flower miles, taste, and individual character of what we're picking, eating, and smelling. And gardening is being proved, again and again, to be good for you and your physical and mental health,' she adds.
The renowned gardener then focused specifically on the edible flowers trend, suggesting we scatter flowers over our food as a 'good way to add color.'
'I've always been a sucker for marigolds, violas, primroses, and nasturtiums for this decorative reason alone. The more I learn about eating flowers, the more I realize there may be other, less fanciful reasons for doing this,' Sarah shares.
She continued: 'Many common wildflowers such as bird's-foot trefoil, lesser knapweed, field scabious, common sorrel, and yarrow have long tap roots that grow into the soil more deeply than grasses, thus making additional minerals available through their flowers and leaves.'
Sarah Raven's edible flower recommendations
In the 10th episode of her podcast, Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange, florist Arthur Parkinson joined Sarah Raven to discuss the key edible flowers every garden should include and how to use them in your kitchen.
There is perhaps no greater place to begin than with elderflower – the plant that is already renowned for its versatile abilities and distinctive taste. Sarah suggests using the flower in cordial, sharing how it makes 'an excellent, not-too-sweet version of the classic cordial.'
'It'll keep for a long time and can be drunk diluted with fizzy or still water right through the year,' she shares.
While we need no reminding of the traditional benefits of lavender, Sarah urges us to think about the plant in a different way and use them in our baked goods.
'Lavender is often used in cakes and desserts, so we are relatively accustomed to seeing it in food already, but it also makes for a stunning splash of purple on any summery dish,' says Sarah.
Head over to our guide on how to grow lavender for top growing tips.
The benefits to borage are equally plentiful, as the plant can be cooked into ravioli stuffing or a rustic pasta sauce. Plus, while there are many herbs and plants to grow for the perfect summer drink, Sarah also recommends putting borage in your cocktails, in case we weren't excited enough already.
'I like to freeze it in ice cubes to give even a simple glass of water a touch of color,' Sarah suggests.
Following Sarah's tips, expert gardener Ellen Mary offered her additions to an edible flower garden. The presenter recommends roses, whose aromatic petals can be used to inject a subtly sweet flavor into fruit salads or added into granola for a wholly organic start to the day.
There's top tips on how to grow roses in our guide.
Ellen Mary further builds on Sarah's outdoor dining ideas, suggesting we also grow hibiscus for its vibrantly colored characteristics and unique flavor. She shares 'hibiscus just needs plenty of sun in a sheltered spot and well-drained soil. It also grows perfectly well in a large pot. To flower for longer, they can be grown in a conservatory as well. Hibiscus tea is wonderfully floral, and the flowers can be used to garnish meals for the wow factor and a taste of the tropics [wherever you are].'
We're on the verge of a garden and kitchen revelation, and we couldn't be more excited to see Sarah's predictions come to life.
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