It’s official: spring has well and truly sprung. Balmy afternoons have coaxed us all outdoors to enjoy nature in bloom, and lavish garden parties have become a firm fixture in our once empty diaries. A renewed love for the great outdoors is only to be expected after long months cooped up inside - a welcome breath of fresh air, if you will - and with rising interest in sourcing our food locally it’s no surprise that foraging has grown in popularity.
No longer solely the domain of award-winning chefs, perennially trendy foodies have turned their attention to their own back gardens for herbs and flowers to complement their cooking - or even garnish their cocktails. We can’t think of a better match to garnish our own Garden of Russia, a floral twist on a Vodka Sour created as a Signature house cocktail for NIO Cocktails by our Master Mixologist, Patrick Pistolesi. Featuring delicate elderflower, ripe pear, and bright citrus notes, it is the perfect addition to a sunny garden soirée.
Below, we list a 5 edible flowers you can forage right here in the UK to spruce up your Garden of Russia and transform it into a visual masterpiece. Make sure you always cross reference what you bring home with guides like this one from Wild Food or Wild Foodie so you can be certain the flowers are safe to eat - and if in doubt, always err on the side of caution!
Alternatively, if you’re in an urban area and don’t have easy access to the great outdoors, shops such as Maddocks Farm and Fine Foods Specialists have a great selection of edible flowers to choose from!
Borage is one of the most easily accessible wildflowers to forage, as it can be found throughout the UK in the spring and summer months! These delicate blue flowers can have a fresh cucumber flavour with a hint of honey, making it a well suited garnish for a spring cocktail.
2. Wild Basil
Although classic Italian fare is what normally comes to mind when we think of basil, Wild Basil can also be found in the UK. The delicate flowers come in pastel shades of white, baby pink or lavender, and can be added to a cocktail on their own or with a few basil leaves for good measure. The leaves of course are full of flavour and complement the tangy lemon flavours of the Garden of Russia, but the flowers - in addition looking lovely - are also lightly aromatic.
These striking flowers are not only eye catching, but would bring an unusual flavour to your Garden of Russia, too. Calendulas (also known as Pot Marigolds) are sometimes used as a substitute for saffron because of their vibrant, bold colours, and are accessible from the spring right through to autumn. Their citrussy, and sometimes subtle peppery, flavours would make an unusual but beautiful pairing with our Garden of Russia.
Wild chamomile flowers have a mildly sweet flavour reminiscent of crisp apple, along with slightly earthy undertones, and pair well with the subtle aromas of ripe pear in our Garden of Russia’s elderflower liqueur. You can find this pretty little flower on your next walk along the sandy heaths or on the coastal cliff tops in the South West of the UK.
Sometimes known by the name “Apple Blossom” to gourmet chefs who use these beautiful flowers in their cooking, the petals of Begonias have a crisp, slightly sour flavour like lemon and also make a wonderful addition to a fresh garden salad. We would recommend only eating the hybrid versions of these flowers, which means they aren’t commonly found in the wild to be foraged - try these from Fine Food Specialist.