Petal, Leaf, Seed - Lia Leendertz May 02, 2016 20:53

Petal, Leaf, Seed. With plans for the new veg plot coming along nicely, my thoughts are turning to what I need to plant, sow and grow in the new beds. The veg plot is going to commandeer the front garden - so it needs to be ornamental and useful in equal measure. Ideally I'd like a mix of flowers and veggies. But what to plant? And for what purpose?

As if by magic, a very special, wonderful book was published last week. From the cover it appeared to be an inspiring way to inform my growing decisions. Perfect, I thought. The book arrived over the weekend. I have had my nose in it ever since. Except for the occasional glance at the garden. Mainly in disbelief. 

It turns out that most of my spring flowers in the garden right now are edible. And not in that Crocodile Dundee 'You can live on it, but it tastes like...' kind of way. Instead, the book acts as a guide to your own garden. It reintroduces you to those old faithfuls that appear each year with a wry smile and a glint in the eye. Yes, you have loved their arrival. Yes, you have appreciated their beauty and colour. With some, you have heard about their medicinal qualities and / or seen a smattering of them on a plate served up on Masterchef. However you hadn't really seen their full potential for your own kitchen. Beautiful flowers transform into beautiful, doable dishes on every page. Doable by my standards and not that of a michelin star chef. 

You are not going to get fat on flowers. As the author points out, many of the things you can find in the garden add 'hints and wafts' to recipes and sauces, condiments and cordials. But what a magical way to get creative in both the garden and the kitchen. This is a book that has truly opened my eyes. The premise is deceptively simple - to cook from the whole garden in a creative way. And yet, so often, it is these simple pleasures that we overlook.

Forget-me-knots, fennel, primroses and violas - all are out now and all can add extra interest and enjoyment to your dinner. To come are the summer flowers - adding flavour and va va vroom to a whole array of drinks and dishes. The timing of this book isn't just great for my veg plot planning. It is ideal in advance of the late spring and summer months that lie ahead. Eating (from) outside is always a pleasure. In the past I have added my own home grown herbs and veggies into the mix at BBQs and get togethers. But this book inspires a whole new level of invention and creativity. In fact, it appears to have already sparked a new tradition in our house - consult the book, find something in the garden and cook with it. Our 'what are we going have for dinner?' conversation just got a lot more interesting...