Saturday, February 04, 2006

First Flowers for the Season / Violets and English Daisies

First Flowers for the Season / Violets and English Daisies

“There’s a flower!” The little girl leaning over the old pole separating our yards was delighted and surprised. “Yes,” I told her, “it’s the first one, and you found it!”

Little girls and miniature daisies are both sweet and delightful. They are welcome diversions on mild days from the deluge of stormy weather we have been having here in Northern CA. I am reminded of the tiny bouquets of violets and English daisies I once picked as a child. And then there were the daisy chains children everywhere like to weave. Do you remember the little daisies you picked as a teen? They helped us answer the all-important question: “He loves me? He loves me not?”

English daisies and violets are often the first flowers to bloom for the year. They rarely wait till it is officially spring to begin whispering that warmer (and hopefully drier) weather is near. They are easy to grow, from nursery starts or seeds. If you have gardening friends you may even be able to arrange a trade for a few plants to start in your own yard. Once established both the daisies and violets are likely to spread, which makes them fun to share. And they are easy to transplant.

English daisies perform best with at least partial sun. I have quite a few of the handsome low evergreen mats. They pop up on their own in the lawn, and I encourage them in my mixed borders and beds. The ones blooming in my yard now, get sun (when it bothers to peek out) most of the day. Violets on the other hand prefer a spot in the shade. They will be happy to grow beneath a tree, or on the shady side of your porch. My violets get very little winter time sun, yet they are cheerfully decorated with little purple blooms.

English daisies and violets were once considered useful plants and were not grown only for they early blooms. They were considered medicinal plants, and the flowers of both the daisies and violets are edible. (If you are allergic to pollen – you should skip the idea of tasting flowers.) For those who would like to try them, they add pizzazz to salads, cake decorations, and ice cubes for fancy drinks.

Now, I know you are thinking that it is way to cold for iced drinks. But if you have room in your freezer, simply drop a flower in each compartment of your ice cube tray. Add water, and freeze. Once they are solid, empty the trays into an airtight bag or other container. This should keep them from forming crystals or dehydrating. Simply keep them frozen until you are ready to use in warmer weather.

The leaves from violets are considered edible. I have tried them, and I really can’t say that I recommend them. However, if you have a goodly patch, and lack many other winter greens, they make an acceptable addition to soups. (And they are considered nutritious.) You may find them recommended as additions to salad, but they are a little tough for my taste.

Don’t forget to look for violets and English daisies while you are selecting seeds or plants at the nursery or in your favorite catalogs. They need very little care, and will brighten your late winter days with their happy blooms. The children in your life might even venture out on dry days and pluck you tiny precious bouquets that you can enjoy arranged in a miniature teacup or vase. The sweetest things need not be large or rare, when they arrive right on time.

For more on edible flowers see:">

For more on English Daisies see:">

Links to everything you could possibly want to know about violets can be found by scrolling down on this page:">

649 words Copyright 2006 Harvest McCampbell

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