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English lavender - Egerton Blue

Blooming delicious!

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PENNY WOODWARD reveals her favourite edible ?owers and how to grow them, while JULIE RAY describes their varied ?avours and culinary uses, from spicy nasturtium petals to nutritious sun?ower seeds.

Flowers are an essential part of all organic gardens. They complete a garden as a total environment and their use harks back to the cottage gardens of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Australia. In these gardens both annual and perennial ?owers were mixed up with each other and the vegetables being grown for food by the cottage owner.

While in the past the emphasis was on ?owers, today it focuses on the vegetables and fruit trees. However, ?owers still play an essential role in providing nectar for bees and other insects that pollinate the food plants, as well as the    bene?cial insects that feed on aphids and other garden pests. Flowers scattered through the garden also provide vibrant colour, enhancing the look of your garden, and their scent provides another dimension of enjoyment. The ?nal bonus is that if you choose your ?owers carefully then you can grow species that are edible. A great way to add beauty, style and aroma to your self-suf?ciency endeavours!

English lavender
(Lavandula angustifolia)
This lavender, with its true light sweet lavender scent and ?avour, is the only lavender that is pleasant to eat. English lavender likes a sunny position and light, well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. It will tolerate very cold regions as long as the soil does not stay wet, but it does not do well in very humid regions. Flowers grow on solitary spikes from spring to autumn. Prune back after ?owering and grow new plants by taking tip cuttings in spring.

Taste test: Sweet floral flavour with lemon and citrus tones. Great in salads, delicious cooked with a roast lamb, or used in teas, cocktails, vinegars, desserts, biscuits, bread and homemade ice-cream. English lavender is one of the herbs in the blend, herbes de Provence. A word of warning: don’t overdo the amount of lavender in a dish or it could end up tasting like perfume or soap!