Edible Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum coronarium, is an easy to grow annual plant which has thrived in the garden this year. It is a member of the Asteraceae/Daisy family and otherwise known as garland chrysanthemum or chop suy greens. Originally from the Mediterranean the plant has spead over Asia and the American continent
Simply grown from seed in the polytunnel with successional sowings over April, May and June the seedlings were hardy and grew quickly in a variety of soils and positions once planted out.
The stems and leaves are used in stir frys and steamed as a green and if you want to encourage this kind of growth then pinching out the top growth to prevent early flowering is useful. However, having a ready supply of flowers has been brilliant for adding colourful garnishes to our delivered and event catering and these plants willingly started to flower and have kept flowering well into the Autumn, producing the lovely yellow and white and pure yellow blooms.
To preserve the flowers for use over the winter we have been drying them and crystallising them. The dried flowers will make a lovely golden tea and the sugared ones will give an extra month or two on the garnishing front.
Taking preservation to its logical conclusion I am now collecting the drying seed heads ready for planting next year. I suspect that there will also be a lot of self seeding going on and it will be useful to be able to recognise the seedlings in case they start to take over large parts of the garden!