Saturday, 21 March 2015

Floral cupcakes and toxic daffodils

I did some flowers for the Garden Museum's cart, which is part of the museum's stand at the Edible Garden Show at Alexandra Palace this weekend (you can still buy tickets for tomorrow!). I bought some edible (if they are grown organically) flowers from Alagar at New Covent Garden Market, to mix with the herbs and bulbs that are in the museum's cutting garden.

I learnt yesterday, during Jonathon Moseley's weekly #flowertalk hour, that tulips petals are edible. Unfortunately, the tulips in the cutting garden are not ready yet, but there are loads of daffodils. Daffodils are definitely not edible - apparently, some people have been getting them mixed up with spring onions as they are often sold in the same section in supermarkets. Don't mix them up! But as the flowers are so seasonal and there is an abundance right now, it didn't seem right to leave them out of the display.

I wanted to make some rosemary bowls to use as bases for a couple of arrangements. I reused two plastic plant bowls and reused floral foam (cutting out the horrible bits and turning it upside down), cutting the foam into a rounded shape and taping it in place. Then I covered the two bowls with rosemary. There is loads of it in the cutting garden, and it's certainly edible - the staff in the Garden Cafe use the herbs in their cooking. I stuck double-sided tape around each plant bowl, and then placed a large rubber band around the centre. I cut the rosemary into similar-sized lengths that just came higher than the bowl, and added them close together around the bowl, using the rubber band to keep them in place. Once the bowls were covered in rosemary, I tied raffia (again reused) around the centres to cover the elastic bands.

I left one looking quite green and natural, with lots of edible sage and lavender from the cutting garden, and a few inedible daffodils. For the other, I wanted to make a giant cupcake, so I used layers of pink and yellow carnations (which would be edible and scented if grown organically!) and more sage.

I had been saving carefully broken eggshells (using a knife along the very top, rather than tapping the egg on its side) with the intention of making a "bird's nest" planted arrangement as Isabelle Palmer does in her wonderful book The Balcony Gardener. But I didn't trust myself to a) plant up the eggshells without breaking them or b) plant plants that would actually survive the week! So lovely gardener Liz at the Garden Museum took them off my hands and returned them filled with wild strawberry plants.

Liz wasn't due to work on Thursday morning, when I was getting the flowers ready in the museum's knot garden, but she happened to walk past and see me, and decided to join me and help. She found me some violas (more edible flowers) and some mixed planted gifts that she had made up earlier. She also cleared out the flower cart so I could fill it with the new flower display. She also found me a flowering herb called cardamine that I had never heard of before, but whose delicate pink flowers grace the garden in front of the museum.

I crumpled some chicken wire into two metal buckets and threaded lilac, quince blossom, the stems of the poor beheaded carnations, and a few leftover carnations into the gaps.

And I made a few posies with daffodils (definitely toxic), snowflakes (also toxic, I suspect), and edible lavender, rosemary, sage, and cardamine (the leaves are edible, I think).

You can buy edible flowers from here and here - which is the safest bet if you aren't sure whether something is edible or how it was grown! Later in the year, there are lots of edible flowers, from roses to borage to lavender flowers. Another reason to look forward to the summer.

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