Doddington Place Gardens

Crossing the Borders

Green’s of Devon – Edible Flowers

Edible flowers are not used nearly enough. Hurrah for Green’s of Devon, who sell herbs, edible flowers and garnishes online, offering a next day delivery service anywhere in the country.

A quick glance at Green’s Instagram makes one want to place an order immediately. Each image is a beguiling visual feast: a selection of yellow flowers, cupcakes decorated with primroses, wedding cakes adorned with gaily coloured flowers and petals and even a vivid green cactus-shaped cake sprouting brightly hued flowers and petals. ‘We are very happy to do bespoke orders, for example just white flowers, or once we made a selection of flowers perfect for a 17th-century salad for the renowned cook, Sybil Kapoor,’ says Janice, who with Ian,  runs the small family business.

Cactus cake sprouting edible flowers

Cactus cake sprouting edible flowers

‘In 2016 we supplied the flowers for the Great British Bake-Off Botanical Week cakes as well as MasterChef and Come Dine with Me.’

Green’s excellent website lists the flowers available with detailed information and ideas for how to use them. For instance, did you know that if you simmer calendula petals in milk they are a good substitute for saffron? There is also a recipe section for those who need a bit of encouragement on how to use edible flowers including how to make crystallised flowers.

Autumn Salad

Autumn Salad

Keen cooks and gardeners will find themselves drooling over what is on offer. A simple but highly effective idea is to put petals in ice cubes. How pretty is that for a summer party? Or Primula gold lace, ‘ a robust little flower which holds up well on cakes or scattered through rice or couscous.’

Ivan and Janice bought seventeen acres near Silverton, Devon in 2008, first planting a vineyard before embarking on edible flowers.

Astonishingly the edible flowers occupy just half an acre which includes two polytunnels. They both have a horticultural background and previously tended an allotment for many years.

Rose hearts

Rose hearts

The couple pride themselves on their holistic approach to growing plants as opposed to the intensive methods traditionally employed by many herb and flower growers.

A cake is transformed by adorable edible flowers.

A cake is transformed by adorable edible flowers.

Each year they run trials – last year it was the turn of zinnias. They proved very popular for decorating cakes. ‘We grow a huge range which gets bigger each year,’ says Janice. ‘We have had to accept that there is a lot of wastage. Even if a flower has a tiny hole we can’t send it out.’   This makes it is a very time-consuming business, with painstaking checking of the quality and careful packing of the flowers to be despatched. Green’s ingeniously designed their own unique packaging: trays with separate compartments. A heat-sealed film is stretched across them to prevent dehydration. ‘If you send out a punnet of flowers such as nasturtiums, tulips and violas all muddled together, the bigger flowers weigh down on the smaller ones, crushing them.’

Green's of Devon unique packaging for sending out edible flowers for next day delivery;

Green’s of Devon unique packaging for sending out edible flowers for next day delivery;

Violas are the most popular flower: ‘You can use them on anything, drinks, canapes, you name it,’ says Janice. Also-old fashioned highly scented English roses. In 2016 there was a vogue for wild flowers, such as sweet Cecily. Cosmos are always popular. Primroses are popular at Easter for decorating Simnel cakes and rose petals in high summer for wedding cakes.

Do have a look at the website, you will find it captivating.