How do you like the words Brexit, Jedward, brunch, chillax and mansplaining? These new words formed by fusing together parts of existing words are known as blends. Some are more popular than others as there will probably at least one word above that makes your skin crawl.
They used to be called portmanteau words, but this term isn't used as much nowadays. Blends are very common in the English language and account for a very large number of the new words added to encyclopaedias each year. Blends are not strictly the same as ‘compounds’, which are made by joining whole words together, rather than parts of words. Examples include website, housemate, keyboard, makeup, lawnmower, pitchfork, bluebell and motorbike.
More well-established blends include guesstimate, motel, fanzine, and shopaholic; among the more recent coinages are affluenza, infotainment, botnet, and labradoodle.
The gardening world doesn’t escape the fusing of words either, take the broccoflower , tomacco, peacherine and the latest buzzword is taking the word edible and ornamental to make ‘Edimentals’ which translates into decorative plants you can eat.
Edimentals fall into a couple of categories. We can have leafy ornamentals that can be used in salads such as young hostas and nasturtium leaves but this week I want to concentrate on edible flowers.
It’s the time of year when we are spoilt for choice with colour.
The first plants that spring to mind are the pansies and violas all members of the violet family. The leaves are added to soups and stews and the petals can be candied and used as a cake decoration adding sugar and eggwhite. Angelia flowers can be used in the same way.
Borage is next on the list. The leaves can be eaten (as long as you don’t mind hairs) but it’s the flowers that have more versatility. They can be candied like the violets and also eaten straight from the plant. They look great individually frozen in ice cubes too and taken out on hot sunny days to add to the drinks on the patio table.
Daylilies - although you have to be fast getting them because as their name implies, they are not around for long.
For a huge show, how about adding hollyhock flowers to a salad? They can be nearly the size of a side plate so really make a statement. Flower buds can be added to stews.
The weedlike Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) is a very versatile plant with not only the flower but the whole plant being edible. The young shoots are eaten like asparagus and the roots cooked up like parsnips make a great talking point at lunchtime.
Chrysanthamum flowers are edible and make a fine drink and let’s not forget nasturtiums for edible leaves and seeds.
You can keep the spread of forget me nots down by eating their flowers and begonias and daisies can be nibbled too. If you are lucky enough to have St Johns wort in the garden, these flowers can be added to salads and made into herbal remedies.
Clover flowers are good if you have that growing in the lawn and coltsfoot flowers are edible if you have them growing on newly disturbed patches of ground. Lavender flowers add a touch of class in both savoury and sweet dishes and like a lot of herb flowers; sage makes a great addition to stews.
Of course please take allergies onto consideration when going around munching on the garden flowers; some of them such as chamomile flowers might cause an allergic reaction.
Scrace (Scratched the Surface- my blend)
I’ve only really scratched the surface of flowers we can eat in the garden and I can only ‘guesstimate’ the vast range available. If you have young children playing in the garden it’s always handy to know which flowers are edible so we don’t fly into a huge panic when we see a stem sticking out of some smiling teeth.
Children’s safety is important, so much so I’ve just invented a new portmanteau word especially - “Chifty” – Children’s Safety - You are welcome…..There’s one for the English dictionary (drops microphone and walks off the stage)