It is cold here in rural Cambridgeshire, but undeniably spring. The snowdrops and crocuses are long gone and the daffodils are just entering their glory phase, with the best still to come. Primulas are in fancy dress, and violets are blooming in sunny patches these past two days. Local radishes are coming in — grown under glass, but nevertheless native grown.
There is such joy in this first flush of spring, its new surprises unfolding with such speed that one could believe in magic and the breaking of winter’s spell. Despite the cold the frosts seem to be a thing of the past and we feel almost safely through, almost.
I gathered edible flowers for the first time from my garden today. Primulas, the native vulgaris and fancy hybrids too, plus some early violas and pink violets, complemented the wonderful organic leaves I am fortunate to be able to buy from my village shop all through the winter, sourced from the organic growers just one mile away. A variety of mustards and winter purslane (Claytonia perfoliata) make for a contrasting mix of tender and peppery leaves, and are so perfect, young and fresh I couldn’t hope to grow them so well myself.
The radishes are my favourite French Breakfast, with their cheeky pinky-red-and-white novelty look, and a new purple variety called Amethyst. Both are sliced paper-thin to match the weight of the leaves, so all the components blend together nicely with nothing falling to the bottom of the mix.
This edible purple palette brought spring to me on a plate today, in celebration of the equinox. I didn’t want a dressing, but if I had, it would have been sherry vinegar and my best olive oil.
Happy spring, everyone. It’s technically here, so sunshine must follow. Soon we will forget that we ever doubted.
What flowers are edible at this time of year?
All primulas, violas and violets are edible — but daffodils are poisonous, so enjoy them in a vase.