There are lovely things being turned into bouquets these days. With really innovative and special floral designers such as Ponderosa and Thyme, Sammy’s Flowers, and more, all kinds of cool and unique blossoms are showing up in bouquets. More innovative and and mysterious then the typical roses and carnations, these arrangements have brought the more fringe flowers to the forefront.
But another group of flowers captures my attention, a group that often goes unseen and is unknown to many. The flowers of vegetables and fruits surprise, delight and intrigue me all through the growing season.
Many people don’t see this, or even realize it’s happening, but it’s a process that is there, working hard to grow more produce. Just like those commercially cut flowers, like roses for example, vegetable and fruit flowers grow from seed, are pollinated, reproduce, and then die.
The thing that is so intriguing about it, is that many of these flowers are really stunning, but they are practically never seen by most people. The best way to view them is to start a garden yourself and be surprised when your brussels sprout suddenly pops open a bright yellow flower, or your carrot creates large starbursts of green and white.
Watching some of our garden friends create flowers and then fruit or vegetables, also helps me to understand the ways they are different from each other.
Root vegetables make flowers, but the produce is growing underground, where as fruit trees, such as blueberries and cherries which are both in our yard, create their fruit where the flower once was, similar to peppers and tomatoes. Why? Does where the fruit is produced have to do with the type of vegetable growing? Is this why tomatoes are often called a fruit vs. a vegetable?
While this article explains some things about fruits and vegetables, I know I have a lot more to learn.
Back to the flowers. Some of my favorite flowers from fruits and vegetables so far are:
Artichoke (taken 2012, at our old apartment. We had three artichoke plants in the front yard)
Lettuce: Photo taken 2014, during our first garden season at our rental house in Keizer) These flowers are so delicate. I think they would be amazing as filler in bouquets or small, sweet arrangements. Can you imagine the gorgeous salad topper they would make?
Blueberry: First photo from WikiCommons (originally posted on Flickr by reviewer Kved, second photo of our plants after they were pollinated and began producing fruit). So most of us realize that fruit trees and bushes flower, but we don’t always get to see the particulars of the flower they make. We have blueberry and cherry in our yard, and blackberries lining our street, so the differences and nuances become really exciting to notice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen blueberry flowers end up in a wedding corsage either, though I think they would be quite sweet in one.
Onion: Walla walla sweet onions. Note how similar the chive and onion flowers look… this is true of a lot of alliums. Want to grow your own? Check out this article, the top 16 Alliums for your garden.
The onion flowers start with a small bulb and then the outer coating peels away gradually, to reveal a large puff ball of small white blossoms. They really are striking! I can imaging these in a tall, elegant arrangement.
Squash: Aww, my squash. These are pie pumpkins and acorn squash, but many squash flowers look similar. I have a love/hate relationship. I’m not growing squash this year because of the space they require and battling of a white powdery mildew. But I had some really great experiences with squash last year, and some philosophical moments (like most of my deep thinking garden thoughts, it involved bees).
Herbs: Herbs have flowers too! Below is our chamomile, which is commonly used for the flower, but other herbs, like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives, also below, have fabulous (and edible!) flowers. I am just waiting for the day when those talented florists can figure out how to incorporate rosemary flowers into their arrangements. Maybe you’ve seen that already? Let me know!
Borage is another one that is edible and I just started growing it (on purpose) this year. We had a borage plant at our old apartment, but it was there already and I had no idea what it was until a gardener friend told us. I used it to decorate cupcakes, which is perfectly lovely! But I’m experimenting with it in other uses; currently, borage vinegar for salads and marinades.
Here it is, just producing some buds:
Here are the borage flowers:
Makes for a lovely cupcake decoration (photos below by Alexandra Grace Photography):
Collard greens: This photo is from my instagram, where one of these little buds was hidden inside a collard green bundle. Such a nice surprise!
Tomatillo: An exotic looking surprise! This is our first year growing tomatillos and they are beautiful.
Carrot: I think this is the one that is the most astonishing to us! We left a couple of our carrots to over winter and they made flowers this spring. The carrots will not be good to eat anymore, as all the energy and sweetness is going to produce the flower and seeds right now, but the flowers are about 8 feet tall and huge! I could see a spectacular carrot cake being decorated with these, the smell is earthy and slightly sweet (much like that of a carrot, go figure!). These are edible too, but don’t go looking for them in the wild-apparently they are often confused with fatal Hemlock flowers.
I hope this has inspired you to plant a garden, or visit one and see what’s in bloom!