Honeysuckle Trouble

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

Do you have honeysuckle running rampant on your property? It’s hard not to be charmed by the lovely yellow and white sweet-smelling blossoms that are out in droves now. But its invasive nature has gotten it banned from nurseries in Massachusetts, and it is likely to take over your garden and naturalized areas if left to its own devices. There are some types of honeysuckle that are less invasive than others and still ok to plant on Cape Cod. But when in doubt, go native. What can you plant instead of honeysuckle for similar benefits of street level screening and lovely June blooms?

Viburnum plicatum

Viburnum plicatum – Doublefile Viburnum

Our native Viburnums bloom at the same time as honeysuckle, but in addition to a spectacular flower show, they produce yummy berries for the birds, and brilliant fall color. Our favorite is Doublefile Viburnum because the large flowers look like lace-cap hydrangeas or ballerinas in flight and their branches and leaves create a graceful horizontal pattern. But there are lots of other cultivars to choose from including Viburnum prunifolium which has edible raisin-like berries, and Cranberrybush Viburnum whose berries taste like cranberries. Just make sure to get the American Cranberrybush, not the European version whose berries are not so tasty. We wouldn’t recommend eating the berries from the Doublefile viburnum either, they are better left for the birds. Always confirm the cultivar of the plant first before consuming it! Viburnum does best in a little bit of shade. Use it as an understory shrub in a woodland area or along the edge of a street, underneath your street trees.

Viburnum plicatum

Viburnum plicatum – Doublefile Viburnum

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Sweet, Edible Spring

When clusters of sweet violets recently popped up in the garden, food was not the first thing on my mind. I was thinking birds, blooms, and warmer weather must finally be on the way. But after spotting this flower recipe book at Eight Cousin’s Bookstore, cooking violets into sugary concoctions seems like the only logical thing to do. Cooking with Flowers: Sweet and Savory Recipes with Rose Petals, Lilacs, Lavender, and Other Edible Flowers by Miche Bacher and Miana Jun is full of beautiful photographs and recipes featuring edible blooms.

Cooking With Flowers  by MIche Bacher, Miana Jun

Cooking With Flowers by Miche Bacher, Miana Jun

Dandelion leaves are tender and tasty this time of year, but their yellow flowers can also be used. Toss them in bread crumbs and fry them up as fritters. Tulips? Not only are the petals edible, but so are the bulbs. They taste like onions. And right now is the perfect time to harvest violets, pansies, and dandelions from your garden.  With lovely sounding things like Calendula Orange Cake, Elderflower Marshmallows, and Blackberry Borage Fool, the only problem with this book is that you will want to eat everything in it.

A few edible* flowers to look for this spring:

Apple & Crabapple Blossoms (Malus)
Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea)
Calendula (Marigolds)
Clover (Trifolium)
Dianthus (Carnations, Pinks, & Sweet William)
Dandelions
Elderflowers (Sambucus)
Wild Geraniums or Cranesbill (Pelargonium)
Lilacs (Syringa)
Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranth)
Pansies (Viola)
Tulips
Violets (Viola)

*The flowers on this list are all fairly common, but be sure confirm the identity before eating any plants. Also, never eat flowers that have been sprayed with harmful chemicals. 

Viola Odorata - Sweet Violets

Viola Odorata – Sweet Violets

Now what to do with those Sweet Violets from the garden? Candied flowers are an easy way to add elegance to your favorite cupcake recipe. To make candied violets, all you need are egg whites, very fine sugar, a handful of violets, and water. There is a great How-to at Taste of Home. Don’t use your houseplants for these. African Violets are not members of the Viola family and are not edible. Use Viola Odorata (Sweet Violet), Pansies, or other edible flowers.

Taste of Home Candied Violets Recipe

Taste of Home Candied Violets Recipe

Happy Spring, Happy Flower Cooking, and if you know of any other great flower recipes, we’d love to hear about them.