5 Ornamental Edible Plants to Grow This Year

A guest blog by Emma from Southwell Gardening Club

We get some great speakers come to us at Southwell Gardening Club but occasionally we go and visit neighbouring gardening clubs to exchange knowledge and gate crash when they have a good speaker.

Last month, five Southwell Gardening Club members made the trip to the Nottingham Organic Gardeners – Spring Lecture to hear Alys Fowler, author of numerous books on gardening and occasional TV presenter (https://alysfowler.wordpress.com).

Alys talked about two recent plant-hunting trips she’s made, one to Kazakhstan and the other to Norway to visit Stephen Barstow, an edible plant collector (Around the World in 80 Plants, Permanent Publications).   Both were fascinating but as I’m currently building a cottage garden from scratch, I was really interested in the ideas that she took from her trip to Norway on unusual edible perennials that look great as well as tasting great.

Here are five of her top recommendations that should work in our UK climate:

1.Allium Cernuum (Nodding Onion)

  • has an intensely sweet garlic flavour and makes a great edging plant flowering in July. Needs full sun and free draining soil.  Has pinkish-purple droplet shaped flowers.


 2. Flower sprouts

  • a cross between a kale and a brussel sprout and being raved about by the chef Yotam Ottolenghi. The supermarkets are starting to sell them for a small fortune.  Much better to grow your own!  Sow seeds now for harvest next Winter.  Extremely winter hardy.

3. Mexican Tree Spinach

– Has lovely purple flowers that unusually keep their colour when cooked.  Really tastes like spinach (many prefer it) and fantastic eaten raw in salads or with butter.  Very easy to grow.


4. Buckler-leaf Sorrel

– is a hardy perennial that self seeds very easily and will tolerate shade.  It has an intense lemony flavour without any bitterness and is great with fish.

 5. Chickpeas

– yes really!  They have wonderful pink, violet or white flowers and Alys recommended eating them raw as a snack.  Easy to grow from the chickpeas you get in the supermarket so very cheap to get started.



Hope that’s inspired you to try something different this year as the days get longer and our gardens start to burst into life.  Happy gardening.




Southwell Gardening Club brings together like-minded gardening enthusiasts and beginners monthly on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. We meet at the WI Hall, Queen Street, Southwell. Do join us from 7.30pm for a glass of wine, juice or cup of tea.  £10 annual membership and £2 donation per evening. LOOK OUT FOR GUEST SPEAKERS AND EVENTS VIA OUR FB PAGE. 

Find us on Facebook and at southwellgardeningclub.co.uk

other sites of interest:
 Nottingham Organic Gardeners

Stephen Barstow – on Edimentals