Welcoming visitors to the Herb Garden on the lighted garden pathway from the front gate, the Edible Flower Garden was the final section added to the WRHS Herb Garden. It was completed in 2003 with the CBG transformation construction when an additional strip of land was acquired by the Herb Garden.
With the exception of French tarragon, all herbs bloom and their flowers are edible. However, apart from the blooms of culinary herbs with their aromatic leaves, there are other edible flowers that have been used in cooking for hundreds of years especially in Medieval Europe, Asia, India, the Middle East and Victorian England and are included in a traditional herb garden. Flowers were pickled or candied, made into syrup, used in salads or transformed in wine and cordials. Modern cooking is less time consuming and less formal than in previous decades. However, not only are flowers still used in cooking for their appearance, texture and flavor, there has been a renewed interest in using edible flowers in culinary dishes.
Edible blossoms are found here from April to October. Blossoms can be harvested for demonstration, education and enjoyment. Blossoms are also dried and used in products for the WRHS fall Herb Fair. The Edible Flower Garden is a garden of all seasons. Primrose, tulips and violas brighten our early spring. Summer is a riot of color from borage, lavender, dianthus, calendula, nasturtium, hyssop and monarda blossoms. Late summer and well into fall sees an explosion of scarlet red on the pineapple sage plant as well as plentiful blooms on the chrysanthemums and pansies.
The most interesting specimen growing in this garden section is the espalier apple tree. It is made up of six different types of apples: main stock-Gala, high-Red Delicious and Fuji, middle-Yellow Delicious and Rome, low-granny Smith and Jonagold. The blossoms are lovely in spring and the apples are a spark of color in summer.
CAUTION: Before eating any flower, be certain that it is safely edible. Not all flowers are edible. “When in doubt, just leave it out!” Flowers should be grown without pesticides and without application of animal manure in the past 4 months. Avoid flowers purchased from florists, grown on the roadside or grown in fertilized soil. When eating a flower, start with a small sample before eating a larger quantity and introduce new varieties to the diet slowly. Although rare, allergic reactions are possible.