When Fashion and Nature Collide – June 2019: Edible Flowers

I will start with the usual reminder of who we are, for new visitors.

The team consists of Dominique Nancy of 3C Style in Canada, Lisa Lawrence of Lismore Paper in the USA, and myself in the UK. We work closely each month to bring you three intertwined posts with a common theme. We are all three very creative people who met via our WP blogs. We have a shared ethos and a close friendship. Our motto – ‘An ocean apart but we share the same heart’ describes us perfectly. The five hour time difference means I spend my morning commute catching up with their conversations during the night, and waiting for them to wake up so I can join in!

Make sure you visit Dominique and Lisa via the links above, to see the whole of the post.

This month the theme is Edible Flowers. Some of these are not obvious, and some go into making much-loved drinks! During this month I visited Dominique in Montreal and we had a go at food photography. This was great fun and we got to eat the results! See 3C Style for recipes.

Edible flower salad!

We visited a market in Montreal and found this stall selling wild foods. This fitted with our theme for June so we bought some. The gentleman in charge wrote us a list of what each of the plants was reputed to taste like. So we tried to find their partner so we could photograph the pairs together. Then we made a big salad and ate the lot! This was so much fun. Dominique is amazing at food styling!

Food styling and collage by Dominique. Photo by me.

Claytonia virginica. This tastes like sweetcorn. It is found in temperate Eastern North America, including Quebec. It grows from tuberous roots (also edible). The counterpart in the West would be Claytonia perfoliata which is known as Miners Lettuce because of its use in salads by miners during the gold rush.

Claytonia virginica – image from Pixabay

Alliaria petiolata or Garlic Mustard is a member of the mustard family that, logically, tastes of garlic. One of the worlds oldest culinary spices this plant is native to Asia, North Africa and Europe including the UK. It is an undesirable invasive species in North America where it was introduced in the 19th century. It is a very familiar wildflower for me but this is the first time I tried eating it!

Alliaria petiolata – image Pixabay

Cardamine diphylla, known as Carcajou in Quebec, is another member of the Mustard family. In this case it has a mild taste of horseradish. A North American native this species is sometimes seen in gardens in the UK. Other species of cardamine include the weedy Bittercresses and the rather lively UK wildflower the Lady’s Smock.

Also closely related is the wild brassica, Rapini Sauvage, or Brassica ruvo, which tastes ounsurprisingly of mustard! This is an improvement on the taste of most Brassicas such as broccoli or cabbage….

Tilia are the Lime trees well known right around the Northern hemisphere. They have myriad uses and the blossom is attractive to bees and important to honey producers. In this case the young shoots can be eaten in salads and have a taste of Walnuts.

Tilia, image from Pixabay

The big surprise for me was seeing the leaves of Eryrthronium americanum in the mix. This, like all Erythronium, is a sought after garden plant in the UK. This species is often difficult to persuade to flower in the uk however. The salad mix also included some flowers which I happily ate too. The leaves taste of melon.

Erythronium. Image pixabay.

Finally we come to Begonia. These are the common begonia used in bedding plant displays and baskets everywhere. We were intrigued to discover these flowers taste like Apples and different colours have different flavours.

The violet flowers used for decoration here are also edible and included in the salad. They don’t really taste of anything. The lavender we added and it tastes of, well, Lavender.

Begonia – photo by me.

Apples!

Collage and artwork by Lisa. Styling of both food and outfit by Dominique. All photos by me.

Do I really need to write about Apples? They are so ubiquitous! Our domestic apple, Malus domestica, originated from a wild ancestor , Malus sieversii in Central Asia and over centuries hybridised with other species and the seedlings selected to form the range of varieties we enjoy today. As well as their culinary uses there are some very attractive apple varieties grown for their scented flowers, and types of Crab Apple grown for their decorative but not edible fruits.

Apple orchard, Quebec. Photo by me.

Dandelion

A cursed weed to many gardeners, the ubiquitous Taraxacum officinale is found in temperate regions worldwide and I probably do not need to write much about this either! If it were rarer I think would be a valued garden plant. It is very attractive in flower and in seed and is beloved by pollinating insects.

Dandelion photo by Lisa. Styling by Dominique, photo of Dominique by me.

The genus Taraxacum is huge if one includes the over 2000 ‘microspecies’ that have evolved in isolated populations. There are even some white and pinkish flowered species in Asia which, ironically, are very tricky in cultivation.

Collages and food styling by Dominique. Photos by me.

If you would like a highly recommended dandelion equivalent for the garden, which does not produce seed, try the lovely Crepis incana.

Crepis incana. Photo by me.

Fiddlehead Ferns

These are apparently a delicacy in Quebec and unfortunately, though we bought some for the photo, I did not get chance to try them cooked as we ran out of time.

Photos by me and collage by Dominique.

Fiddleheads are the tightly coiled new fronds of a number of fern species. They need careful preparation before being eaten so please take care! When I took the photo above I was not aware that this species , the shuttlecock fern or ostrich fern, was one of the species eaten as fiddleheads. However – the wikipedia entry for this species does caution that it contains a toxin so please be careful! Dominique tells you how she prepares and cooks Fiddleheads and I hope to try them next time I visit.

Food styling and collage by Dominique. Photo by me.
Gorgeous swimwear model and collage – Dominique. Both photos by me.

Don’t ask about the duck. Nice colour though isn’t it? And matches Dominique’s swimming costume!

The shuttlecock fern, Matteucia struthiopteris, is a lovely decorative fern for the garden in a damp spot. It spreads by runners though so may be invasive. It is deciduous, dying back each winter, before unfurling again in spring. It looks its best in May here in the UK. The photos of the fern and the duck were taken at Holker Hall gardens in Cumbria this May.

Borage

Collage and styling by Dominique, earring photo by me, Borage photo from Pixabay

Borage, Borago officinalis, is an annual herb from the Mediterranean but is widely grown around the world. It does well in the UK and is much loved by bees. As well as being used to flavour drinks the flowers are often used as a salad garnish. The leaves can be cooked for use as a vegetable too. Nowadays it is grown commercially for its seeds – Borage seed oil having uses in herbal medicine.

Borage and Bee – image from Pixabay

I struggled to find a plant in flower to photograph so we resorted to a Pixabay photo – but I did produce this drawing as an illustration for the Borage Lemonade recipe that Dominique talks about.

Hops

Finally we reach a subject close to my heart. Beer! Dominique has video proof of this, which will no doubt appear soon…

During the recent trip to Montreal Dominique took me to a place where I could try a number of different local beers. Craft Beer has also inspired a wonderful art work from Lisa which we are very proud to make available on products in our Threadless store:

Artwork and collage by Lisa.

The hop, Humulus lupulus, has a long and fascinating history of use by people. See the Wikipedia entry for more info.

First used in brewing over a thousand years ago the unpollinated fruits of the female plant lend the flavour and bitterness to beers. Hop fields are entirely of the female plant as pollination is not wanted. In the UK the county of Kent has a long tradition of hop growing and has some great local beers too. Britains oldest extant brewery, Shepherd Neame (est 1698) is based in the county and their Spitfire Ale is one of my favourites. Whole families from the East end of London would traditionally spend their summers picking hops in Kent. Hops are also very widely grown in the US and Canada.

The dried flower heads are attractive and can be used in flower arrangements or in potpourri. There is a very attractive golden leaved form ‘Aureus’ which makes a good, vigorous, climber for covering a fence or structure in the garden.

Everything Blooms

This new image was teased last month. The concept came to me as a doodle from Dominique and I was initially wary because I expected the wood grain to be a time-consuming challenge. In fact this was a remarkably fast drawing to do – much of it being completed during a two-hour Skype call. It was also great fun to draw. We are offering this image on products in our Threadless Store too:

Everything Blooms

 

WFNC is taking a break.

The team have decided that we will take a vacation in July but we will return refreshed (in my case probably with beer) in August!

Shop links:

My own prints

Fashioned by Nature

37 Comments

  1. It’s magic Darren! Your photographs and original art capture it like no other. I am in awe of your talent my friend. I think my favorite is your beautiful smile. I love the borage and lemon art, it makes me happy. What an amazing edition for so many reasons. You and Dominique are so inspiring. Much love and big hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a pleasure to read your post. Apart from the meaningful information about the plants, I cherish so much memories from your last visit. I had a wonderful time in your company — I miss you already too. Your wooden spoons and Lemon/Borage art are breathtaking. You are so talented and inspiring. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing you again soon. Much love! xoxo

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Okay, so what’s with the duck! 🤣 Looks like a cute prop to me, lol.
    But in all seriousness, what a fabulous post and such a wonderfully creative effort by you three. I’ll admit there’s plants, flavours and combinations in here I’ve never heard of before but that’s the beauty of these intertwined posts. I learn something new every day. Cheers to a great project Darren. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  4. You are a sweetie Lisa, thank you! This project needs all three of us and I feel lucky to have such talented co-conspirators 😉

    Beautiful smile? Really? RARE smile, perhaps 🙂

    Love and hugs right back to you! x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The beer was certainly enjoyable 🙂 Thank you!

    The food there (Vices et Versa) was remarkably good too and we could see why it is so busy and popular. I felt right at home despite it being busy too.

    And the company was the best thing of all.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you Dominique. We three make a great team and I have the courage to push myself creatively because of it.

    I miss you too, and the fun we had creating these images 🙂

    Air Transat are torturing me today with ads for bargain flights to Montreal whenever I open a web page….
    Much love to you too. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sometimes a duck is just a duck Miriam 😉 In truth, these ducks were prowling the grounds at Holker Hall near my home when I was there taking pictures just before going to Montreal. Presumably they were in search of bready handouts from visitors! Since Roda left the project we all now try to take pictures of critters whenever we get a chance.
    When Dominique and I were reviewing pictures on my ipad during my visit she spotted these and we realised that they were a good colour match for her swimsuit.

    We learned a lot from doing this post too. Thank you!

    Funny thing is that Dominique and I also made a salad together on my first visit last year and it incorporated chillies (my idea) and fresh coriander (Dominique’s idea) and we both enjoyed the results, though the chillies turned out to be quite ferocious…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We sure are! So proud of the work the three of us do together. You are such a brave man to have teamed up with two night owl like Lisa and I.

    Air Transat knows what’s good for you! Lol 🙂 Much love dear friend.

    Like

  9. This series always reminds me of things I’ve loved in the past, currently, and give me ideas for what I will love in the future. That’s pretty high praise! The borage took me back to gardens of long ago. I’ve always loved that flower and it’s cucumbery leaves. Dandelions are always a welcome sight, as they are a harbinger of spring. Many people around here eat dandelion greens when they first pop up. It’s a spring ‘tonic.’ That brings us to the other spring plant you’re featuring…the fiddlehead fern. Fiddleheads are a staple around here during the spring. I’m so disappointed that you weren’t able to have some. Unlike dandelion greens, I absolutely love fiddleheads. I didn’t have a change to get a batch of them to cook at home, but I did have fiddlehead tempura at a Japanese restaurant! So, you see, your fabulous posts inspire all sorts of culinary delights…past, present, and we’ll see what the future brings! P.S. I think a fiddlehead drawing is in order, Maybe? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this lovely comment Linda. Actually I really like the idea of a fiddlehead drawing and can see it working in graphite really well. I am sure I will get to try them at some point.
    Could I find any borage to photograph? I could not. Next week I guarantee I will see it everywhere. X

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Hi Darren I love reading your post I think you could write a book on this subject So interesting The images and artwork are incredible Have a lovely time during your break Cris

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oh, the claytonia is soo pretty! And I had no idea begonia were edible!! (Excuse me, I’m right back, just need to take a bite from mine.😉) And now I know where the wood comes in – excellent drawing, Darren! It really looks like you could touch it and feel the grain itself! 😄
    I might be rather alone in this but I actually don’t mind weed like Dandelion at all. On the contrary – I find them very beautiful and who’s to say what’s weed and what isn’t?! It’s all part of nature and therefore has a right to live. And as you said, pollinators love it so I say give me more of them because I love watching bees at work! 😄💕

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Amazing, as always! 😉 clearly you can draw ANYTHING! I do have to say fiddle heads are nasty 🤢 they taste like algae and ya, I have tasted that too😖
    I am glad you three are taking a break! Have a fun July 💥

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes, yes, yes… Do it Darren! 🙂 You only live once. Sorry Dee-Dee, we can’t be aligned on everything my friend. Besides, I know Darren like algae, so there is a big chance that he will enjoy the fiddleheads. Big hugs to you both.

    Like

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