Eating Pretty … Edible Flowers in my Garden

The day I discovered that so many flowers were edible transformed how I prepared and presented my food. Edible flowers not only bring color and texture to a dish, but also flavor and scent. They transform the plating of both sweet and savory dishes, they flavor hot and cold drinks, and they jazz up ice cubes. Edible flowers also add a distinctive je ne sais quoi to vinegars, dressings, baked goods, and preserves.

I’ve been planting them in our vegetable garden since I first arrived on the farm. So many also make excellent companion plants to our vegetables, and between them, attract countless pollinators and other helpful insects. Nearly every photograph I took of the flowers this morning was animated by feeding stingless bees and wasps. Our garden is abuzz and brimming with color now that the temperature is warming up and our winged creatures are starting to return.

Edible flowers - echinacea
Echinacea flowers.
Beet salad.
Roasted Beetroot & Pearl Barley Salad with Goat Cheese.
Edible flowers - rocket 1
Rocket flowers.
Edible flowers -violas
Coconut Dulce de Leche & Caramelized Pineapple.
Coconut Dulce de Leche & Caramelized Pineapple.
Tiny edible flowers from a seed mix.
Tiny white flowers on a very peppery rocket.
Edible flowers - Yomar pudding
Yomar’s Strawberry Mousse.
Edible flowers - onion 1
An onion flower, with a feeding stingless bee.
Edible flowers - purple runner bean
Purple runner bean flower.
A Blue Strawberry/Table Talk's canapé garnished with viola petals.
A Blue Strawberry/Table Talk’s canapé garnished with viola petals.
Edible flowers - lemon blossom 2
Lemon blossoms covered in feeding bugs.
Edible flowers - violas 2
Sunny yellow violas.
Blue Strawberry/Table Talk's beautifully-adorned smoked salmon appetizer.
Blue Strawberry/Table Talk’s beautifully-adorned smoked salmon appetizer.
Dill flowers.
Dill flowers.
Edible flowers - nasturtium
A nasturtium flower.
Edible flowers - TEC
Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts.
Edible flowers - peas
Pea flowers.
Lima bean flowers.
Lima bean flowers.
Edible flower couscous.
Edible flower couscous.

Click here for a list of edible flowers.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.


  • Oh I wish you were close to take some of my Nasturtiums. Have just toooo many.

    • I do, too. They are magnificent plants, chitaitai! Not only as companions but also every part is edible. Have you tried pickling the seeds? We make ravioli out of the leaves, and use the flowers in so many different ways as garnish. I love them!

  • Stunning…..and inspiring! xox

  • Gorgeous photos Annabel. I discovered that borage flowers eaten with the fuzzy bit tastes like oysters. Yum

    • Thank you for stopping by my blog, Rob. Wow. Oysters! I need to eat the borage flowers with their fuzzy bits on and see if I agree. What a boon it would be to have the flavor of oysters in my food in this landlocked country!

  • You are so inspiring, Annabel! I want to eat all of those beautiful flowers, now! I can see it happening–friends will stop having me over, lest I nibble on their arrangements…

    • Haha, Cynthia. 🙂 If I recall correctly, you have edible flowers right outside your front door! Roses, geraniums, day lilies … no need to go to your friends’ houses!

  • LOvely photographs.
    Borage flowers can be frozen in ice cubes. the ice cubes look lovely in drinks. when preparing just carefully remove the green bits and freeze the blue flowers.
    You have a picture of a marigold. the one you show is Tagetes and tends to be very bitter. THe Calendula species marigold is the one that is edible. sprinkle the petals on salads, or chop finely and add to a scone mix.
    best wishes Judith President of the Pennine Herb Societyy

    • Thank you for your interest in my blog, Judith … and for the information you posted about marigolds. I don’t have any Calendula in the beds right now, so use Tagetes sparingly as a result. They do, however, make the most terrific companion plants, especially here where we do battle with nematodes the year round! All the best to you, Annabel

  • Just inspirational, Annabel.
    I, (I think like you) believe we need to get down to grass roots and as earthy as we can be.
    Animals and plants are SO much better than humans at keeping the world as it’s meant to be.
    Doesn’t mean we have to ‘go feral’, just reconsider priorities.
    Thanks and ?

    • I agree completely, Celia. The closer you live to “your patch”, the better. The natural world gives me SO much pleasure. It’s miraculous! So much gratitude for your kind comment and interest.

  • Oh my goodness – such beautiful flowers! That’s the prettiest nasturtium I’ve ever seen!

    • Aren’t they magnificent, chef mimi? They really do cheer up a dish … 🙂 Much gratitude, as always, for stopping by!


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