Five Beautiful Edible Plants in Purple
For the uninitiated, a garden is a garden, except when it isn’t. For many, a garden falls into two camps: vegetables or flowers. The challenge comes when those plants that are considered flowers are edible… or if edible plants are to be used for aesthetic reasons.
A skirmish need not occur. But confrontation does happen in cities and towns across North America when one decides to grow beautiful edible plants in the front yard. If you are interested in useful beauty, or in quietly challenging the status quo and local ordinances, then this list of edible flowers will give you an arsenal from which to draw.
1) Borage (herb): Larger sprawling plant with leaves that are a bit furry, giving the plant a muted or silver tint. It features lovely clusters of small blue star-shaped flowers. Flowers can be used for garnish, sometimes preserved in sugar, with leaves and flowers tasting like cucumber. Best grown from seed and may reseed for following year.
2) Chives (herb): Leaves are usually grassy with a height of about 6-8 inches, with an onion or garlic flavor, depending upon the variety grown. Flowers are small mauve-pink and grown into a ball-like shape at the end of a strong stem rising above the plant’s leaves. The variety Nira chives grows to about 12 inches with flat leaves and larger ball-like lavender flowers.
3) Daylilies (perennial flower): Upright cascading leaves and large trumpet-like flowers on strong stems. Often used as focal point in the garden, daylilies readily multiply and are extremely hardy. Be aware that flowering occurs over a 4-5 week period. Some have allergies to eating day lilies, therefore as a precautionary measure, eating only a sprig and then waiting an hour to determine if you will have a reaction will serve some of you quite well. Blossoms are typically eaten, but be sure to remove the pistil and stamen! The flavor is much very similar to butter lettuce, with each variety having a slightly different or sweeter flavor. Young springtime shoots are also edible, yet aren’t as tasty as chives.
4) Violets (perennial): Both edible leaves and blossoms. This plant does well in light shade, fairly drought tolerant and easy to care for. The leaves are a roundish dark green giving a hillside a lush appearance, with flowers being a smaller deep violet color. Violets can be used in recipes as diverse as violet leaf tea, vinegar, blossom salad, sugars and syrups. A side note is that violets can also be used as a medicinal for multiple purposes, including relieving headaches and colds.
5) Thyme (perennial): Drought tolerant, hardy, scented, and with tiny leaves and purple flowers, thyme has become another favorite plant of mine in recent years. It is evergreen and creeping, which looks fabulous in situations from rock gardens to stone patios, to groundcover in between plants near walkways. This is a plant best purchased rather than grown from seed. Various varieties of thyme are available, so be careful to choose one with a hardiness rating geared for your area.
6) Roses (perennial): have edible petals and are hardy once established. Some roses are more tasty than others, so try them all to find your favorites. And like most others, it’s important to find flowers that are unsprayed. There are many varieties of roses, adapted to all different types of climates. The petals and the hips can be used for teas or eaten out of hand.
These six beautiful edible plants will give you color, hardiness, lower care and maintenance and a unified color theme that will benefit nearly any front yard. Other additions can include pansies and violas and the biennial hollyhock, among others. But if you want to add a variety of colored edible plants, choose white and yellow from calendula, dandelion, basil (also comes in purple varieties that are more tender than the typical varieties grown for pesto), carnations, chamomile and chrysanthemums.
If you have other plant combinations that have worked for you, or to share your quiet revolution of planting edibles in more public areas we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Violets image from Shutterstock