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Blue, Blue, Electric Blue ....

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The towpath in Staffordshire was full of Comfrey plants, and this year the flowers seemed especially blue … they vary from pale pink through sky-blue pink to almost electric blue. My foraging fingers went to work as this is a good tea herb. It is also a great addition to compost heaps and makes a good liquid plant food.

 comfrey

Other blue flowered herbs that are worthy of attention at the moment are beautiful starry Borage flowers. Loved by bees, these edible flowers are a pretty addition to salads, with a mild cucumber flavour and absolutely essential to Pimm’s. It does grow wild; I have seen lots on the Macclesfield Canal but it is also easy to grow from seed. Borage can be a bit invasive in the garden and the hairs on the leaves are irritating to some people.

 borage

Vivid blue Cornflowers are just coming out. Again these are edible, with a mild clove taste and can be used in cooking and salads. They have also been used medicinally for centuries and can be dried for storage.

 cornflowers

Wild Chicory flowers are also edible, and not quite as bitter as the leaves. Growing up in Oxfordshire I remember the Oxford by-pass being built. I was dismayed at the time by the scar this road left on the countryside, but every cloud has a blue lining and for years after the road was built, the verges were awash with piercing blue Chicory flowers that appeared as if by magic.

 chicory

In the garden, the blue flowers of Rosemary are just coming to an end but can be added to salads or risottos and if you let your sage plants flower, not only are the flowers tasty but also the bees will thank you.

If you want to wild harvest or forage, please make sure you have the land owner’s permission and abide by the law that prevents uprooting any plant and protects certain species. Also, be mindful not to strip a whole area or plant and of where you pick in terms of pollution and crop spraying. If you are not a confident forager, many local Councils now offer foraging days. There are many wild herbs to pick for using fresh or to dry for winter use; Elderflowers, Meadowsweet , Nettles, Plantain, Cleavers, Hawthorn … the list is endless… so much goodness for free. Make sure you know what you are picking as some innocent looking plants, like White Bryony, are quite toxic. This used to be known as English Mandrake as its tuberous root looks similar to the true Mandrake.

 white byrony

I have borage and cornflower plants and seeds available at the moment, as well as Sage and Rosemary plants, a dinky little blue Eryngium  “Blue Hobbit” and also a beautiful blue Penstemon “Electric Blue” which is not edible but it’s dazzling flowers, compact, upright nature and long flowering period make it a useful plant for a small garden … and a great way to remember the legendary David Bowie.

 

 TTFN

Bunny