Recipe – Hibiscus Popsicles

hibiscuspops

My friend Joe introduced me to the simple delight that is hibiscus in champagne. He dropped a candied hibiscus into the bottom of my glass, and I was head over heels. You’ve got to try Joe’s drink in pop form – it’s the best of both worlds. Makes 10-12 popsicles, depending on mold size.

2 cups hibiscus simple syrup (see below)

2 cups champagne

Stir together simple syrup and champagne. Let stand until mixture stops fizzing. Pour into pop molds and freeze.

Hibiscus Champagne

Store-bought candied hibiscus are destined for bubbly. Drop them into glasses of cool champagne and drink up!

Hibiscus Simple Syrup

Colorful flower-infused simple syrups have oh so many hues. Strong and sweet, they are best used as bases in other recipes, such as sorbets or drink mixes.

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

2 tbsp to 1 cup fresh or dried flowers

Dissolved sugar in water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer. Place flowers in a nonreactive bowl (by that I mean glass, enamel, or stainless steel). Pour hot syrup over top and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the flowers. (I know it is a shame to discard the flowers, but you must unless you are using the syrup right away). Floral simple syrup ca be stored in the fridge for 1 or 2 months. If it begins to crystallize, simply heat it again until smooth. Makes 2 cups (1 pint).

This recipe makes a vicious simple syrup. For a thinner version, use 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Either type will work well in recipes that call for simple syrup.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more recipes

Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.

Photo: halfbakedharvest.com

Recipe – Hibiscus Popsicles

Recipe – Lavender Lemonade

lavenderlemonade

Delightfully refreshing, lavender lemonade is a great way to showcase your skill at making flower simple syrups. Makes 6 cups (1 1/2 quarts).

1 cup lavender simple syrup (see below)

1 cup lemon juice

4 cups water

Mix ingredients directly in the pitcher – don’t bother dirtying up one more thing. Adjust the flavors according to your own taste preferences.

Lavender Simple Syrup

Colorful flower-infused simple syrups have oh so many hues. Strong and sweet, they are best used as bases in other recipes, such as sorbets or drink mixes.

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

2 tbsp lavender buds

* Lavender is a potent herb, and this syrup will get stronger the longer you let it infuse, so be careful to taste for your own preferences.

Dissolved sugar in water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a simmer. Place flowers in a nonreactive bowl (by that I mean glass, enamel, or stainless steel). Pour hot syrup over top and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the flowers. (I know it is a shame to discard the flowers, but you must unless you are using the syrup right away). Floral simple syrup ca be stored in the fridge for 1 or 2 months. If it begins to crystallize, simply heat it again until smooth. Makes 2 cups (1 pint).

This recipe makes a vicious simple syrup. For a thinner version, use 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Either type will work well in recipes that call for simple syrup.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more recipes

Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.

Photo: thesharedsip.com

Recipe – Lavender Lemonade

Recipe – Dandelion Wine

dandelionwine

Dandelions are the bane of many a homeowner’s existence, but they can be transformed into the most delicious sunshine-filled liqueur (colloquially called wine) by making a dandelion tea (non-alcoholic) and then letting it ferment with sugar and citrus. You will find yourself creeping into neighbors’ yards to pick more blossoms, it’s just that good. Makes about 1 gallon.

4 cups dandelion flowers

6 cups boiling water

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced

1 orange, thinly sliced

1. Place dandelion flowers in a large heatproof container. Pour boiling water over top. Cover and let steep for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

When making dandelion wine, cleanliness is key. Make sure your kitchen counters, hands, and all utensils are sterile.

2. Pour the resulting tea through a fine-mesh strainer into a large pot or saucepan, pressing the petals to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the blossoms and bring tea to a boil.

3. Place sugar in a heatproof 1-gallon jar. Pour boiling dandelion tea into jar and stir to dissolve. Add lemon and orange slices. Cover jar and let liquid stand for 2 weeks at room temperature, shaking every couple days.

4. Pour dandelion wine through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter into a clean container. Serve or cover and store refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Fermenting Flower Wines

Some of the flowers that make lovely flower wines include pink (dianthus), lilac, lavender, daylily, elderflower, violet, tulip, herb flowers, roses, and pansies. Swap in equal amounts of whatever flowers you like, except for lavender; because it has a particularly strong flavor, lavender should always be used in slightly smaller amounts.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more recipes

Bacher, Miche.(2013). Cooking with Flowers. Philadelpha, PA: Quirk Books.

Photo by Miana Jun

Recipe – Dandelion Wine

Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are another great way to increase the beauty and productivity of the planting beds throughout your backyard. A number of plants are grown for their edible flowers, such as nasturtium, violas, and calendula, but did you know that many vegetable and herb flowers are also good to eat? Summer squash blossoms are, of course, the most well known, but here are a few more ideas for how to eat the flowers growing in your garden.

Agastache, violas, scented geranium, nasturtium, calendula, lavender, borage, and rose: Use the petals of these edible flowers as cake decoration, ravioli fillings, or sprinkled over salads.

Kale, mustard, and collard greens: Add the flower buds to stir-fries or braised greens, or cook by themselves with some olive oil and garlic.

Arugula: Arugula flowers have a sweet flavor tinged with the pepper quality of the arugula leaves and make a delicious salad ingredient.

Winter squash: The flowers can be used just like summer squash blossoms. More delicate and often not available at grocery stores, winter squash flowers are equally delicious.

Herbs such as chive, sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, savory, and so many more: They all have beautiful and tasty flowers that can be used in the kitchen. Bright blue rosemary blooms add a fun , spicy kick to winter salads.


Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Edible Flowers

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 5

Step Five: Fill It Out with Groundcovers and Low-Growing Plants

The last step is to fill in unused spaces with groundcovers and low-growing plants. Repeated throughout the landscape, they are an effective way to establish a balanced and cohesive look in your garden. Rather than ornamentals, use low-growing perennials herbs and edibles as groundcovers throughout your garden. Groundcover chamomile under a fruit tree can be repeated between flagstones in a pathway. If you use a variegated yellow-and-green ornamental grass in one part of t he garden, repeat that same color scheme with a variegated lemon thyme. Remember common sense when harvesting – don’t harvest and eat the ones that are planted in more pedestrian areas like the edges of driveways and sidewalks; instead, leave those to flower and attract pollinators to the garden or use as cut flowers in your home.

Some favorite edible groundcovers and low-growing plants include:

Spreading fruits:

  • blueberries (low bush varieties)
  • cranberries
  • strawberries (alpine, ever-bearing, and June-bearing)

Herbs:

  • chamomile (‘Roman’ variety)
  • Corsican mint
  • other mints (use only in contained areas and pull back from around bases of trees and shrubs)
  • oregano (try variegated ‘White Anniversary’)
  • rosemary (prostrate varieties)
  • sage (try ‘La Crema’,. ‘Tricolor’, and golden varieties)
  • sweet woodruff
  • thyme (try ‘Caraway’, creeping, ‘Spicy Orange’, lime, variegated lemon, and silver varieties)
  • winter savory

Now that we have walked you through the design principles of a beautiful garden and the five steps for planning a garden, you are ready to apply these ideas to your front yard, backyard, and other smaller garden spaces.


Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4

Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 5

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 4

Step Four: Add Plants for Beauty and Production

After you have finished placing the permanent elements and anchor plants in your garden, you are ready to choose additional plants that are beautiful and productive. These plants include perennial edibles (like rhubarb, artichoke, asparagus, lemongrass, and berries), annual vegetables (like peppers, eggplants, chard, onions, and celery), herbs, and flowers that you will add to the remaining spaces in your planting beds.

Just as your edible plants work for you, pollinator-attracting plants work for your edibles by providing a habitat for the pollinators and beneficial insects that your edible garden needs. Pollination is what happens when pollen is transferred from a plant’s male parts to its female parts. Without it, the development of new seeds and fruits wouldn’t happen. The most effective way for pollen to move around from flower to flower is when it is carried by insects, also called pollinators. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, ants, and sometimes also birds. Even plants that can rely on the wind to distribute pollen will increase production significantly when they have support from visiting pollinators.

A healthy garden also needs a whole host of beneficial insects to help fight off unwanted garden pests. “Beneficial insect” is a general term that includes the above pollinators and also insects that prey on garden pests like aphids or mites. These pest-killers include ladybugs, green lacewings, praying mantis, assassin bugs, and some flies and wasps. Because this range of insects help keep each other’s populations in check, you cannot have a healthy garden ecosystem without them.

Happily, the plants that are attractive to your local beneficial insects and help lure them to your garden are also attractive to us – we all like flowers! There are so many pollinator-attracting blooms to choose from, such as yarrow. Yarrow is the real workhorse of the garden. A beautiful, perennial, low-water plant, it is available in a wide range of colors and attracts ladybugs, lacewing bugs, hover flies, bees, and more. In addition to traditional perennial flowers to attract pollinators, you can cultivate herbs throughout the garden and let them flower.

Don’t forget to include some of the flowers you really love – even if they are not pollinators’ favorite flowers. Dahlias, hydrangeas, daffodils, and tulips all have a place in your garden if you like them. Mix them in with flowers that pollinators love too for a beautiful, productive, and healthy garden. It’s easy to do regardless of your chosen garden design style, because there are so many flowers to choose from.

Here are a few of our favorite pollinator and beneficial insect-attracting plants:

  • agastache
  • anise hyssop
  • blue throatwort
  • ceanothus
  • coreopsis
  • cosmos
  • crassula
  • echinacea
  • echium
  • erigeron
  • euphorbia
  • flowering culinary herbs
  • foxglove
  • germander
  • grevillea
  • helenium
  • lavender
  • nepeta
  • penstemon
  • rudbeckia
  • Russian sage
  • salvias
  • scabiosa
  • sedum
  • stonecrops
  • sunflower
  • sweet alyssum
  • verbena
  • yarrow
  • zinnia

Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 5

Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 4

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 3

Step Three: Position Anchor Plants

Along with your permanent hardscaping elements, anchor plantings are the structural framework upon which the rest of your garden is based. These anchors will define your garden through the seasons. Even in winter, when deciduous plants lose their leaves and patio furniture is put away, there should be strong elements in place that provide visual interest and that maintain the basic lines and flow of your garden.

Use perennial plants as your anchors. They should be evergreen or, if they are deciduous, they should provide another element like height or strong branch structure. Many fruit trees work well for this purpose. Screening and hedging plants are often used for privacy, but their evergreen foliage can also serve as an anchor in your overall garden design.


Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 4 | Step 5

Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 3