On the verge: the highlights

Well, you have certainly found some stunning road verges this week!

The featured image is of a glorious carpet of Wood Anemones, Anemone nemerosa snapped by @KateGold24

Throughout the week you have spotted a profusion of Primroses, Cowslips, Cuckoo flowers, Bluebells and Wood Anemones!

This charming Pembrokeshire verge was photographed by @JonathanPembs

@dolly_and_dj found this lovely carpet of Sweet Violets, Viola odorata growing alongside a busy bypass!

The eagle-eyed amongst you managed to spot Danish Scurveygrass, Cochlearia danica as featured in last week’s podcast episode. This one was found by @PinkfootedGus on the central reservation of the A96.

Many of you also found a diminutive plant which is often overlooked.

The lovely Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea, a frequent resident of roadside verges. Up close the flowers are beautiful. This fabulous image was captured by wildflowerhour member @Barbus59

Lastly to finish this gorgeous verge full of Primrose, Primula vulgaris Spotted by @rosebroadly

Thank you so much for taking part in the #ontheverge challenge. Wishing you all a week of happy flower hunting!

The rest of your fantastic #ontheverge finds can be seen in the collection below.


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/16/on-the-verge-the-highlights/


Garden ideas from the Ascot Garden Show

I’ve just been to the Ascot Garden Show, England’s newest garden show (held 13th-15th April).

It can’t be easy to start a garden show from scratch, but the Ascot Garden Show has done it very well. Most big new horticultural shows are organised by the RHS. But this one is a partnership between Ascot Racecourse, The Savill Garden and The Valley Gardens at Windsor Great Park.

Ascot Garden Show media pass

Stephen Bennett, former shows director at the RHS, is at the helm, so his expertise is evident. But it’s quite a different venture for a racecourse to take on. A new RHS show can rely on the reputation and customers of the RHS, but as Ascot Racecourse says ‘it’s sporting different colours’ to do a garden show.

What I liked about it

With 30+ specialist plant stalls, 6 show gardens and 6 ‘young gardener’ gardens, plus other stalls, it’s big enough for a day out. But it’s also small enough to get round. You can probably see everything.

There was also a full programme of talks from horticultural experts and celebrities, such as Pippa Greenwood, David Domoney and more.

And, above all, there are lots of places to sit down or eat and drink. I’ve often left a garden show earlier than I intended to because I was exhausted. It’s great to have a food court, but you need places to rest between food courts if your show is big.

The Show Gardens

The quality of the six show gardens was excellent. They were all relatable and had ideas that would adapt to a garden of any size.

Tom Hill's On Point garden at the Ascot Garden Show

Tom Hill’s On Point garden. I love the balance of the planting and colour.

Claudia de Yong's garden for the Association of Professional Landscapers

Claudia de Yong’s garden for the Association of Professional Landscapers was extremely pretty but also showcased landscaping elements with clear glass ‘windows’ in the decking and stonework to ‘what lies beneath.’

Posh Shed at the Ascot Garden Show

Claudia de Yong’s Posh Shed in the APL garden.

Kate Gould Garden for the Ascot Garden Show

A Garden for All Seasons by Kate Gould had an interesting use of screening in a garden – a way of dividing up an area but still being able to see through.

The Young Gardener of the Year competition

There were six student gardens from Capel Manor College, Pershore College, Shuttleworth College, Writtle University College, Myerscough College and Reaseheath College.

Student gardens at Ascot Garden Show

One of the student gardens for the Young Gardener of the Year competition.

See more of Ascot Garden Show in this video

It’s easy to get to. You can walk to Ascot Racecourse in just seven minutes from Ascot station. And there’s free parking in the racecourse car parks.

The Ascot Garden Show is definitely a high quality show, but it’s also relaxed.  I hope it stays small enough to keep those qualities. But even if it grows, the venue is used to handling crowds, so it has great potential to become part of the horticultural calendar.

I’ll be visiting other garden shows throughout the year. You can see them on the Middlesized Garden YouTube channel and the Middlesized Garden blog. So do join me by subscribing – just enter your email in the box on the top right, or go to the YouTube channel and click on ‘subscribe’. Thank you!

The post Garden ideas from the Ascot Garden Show appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/garden-ideas-from-the-ascot-garden-show/

Challenge: On the verge

This week’s challenge is super simple!

We are asking you to check what’s in flower on the road verges!

If you have been listening to the Wildflowerhour podcasts, you will know how important our roadside verges are and how they form a linear sanctuary for many species of our wild flora.

Wild flowers on road verges

So go out and see what is in flower on a verge near you, photograph what you find and post your pics using the hashtag #ontheverge for #wildflowerhour this Sunday 8-9pm on Twitter, Instagram or in our Facebook group.

Don’t worry if you can’t name your finds the lovely friendly community of Wildflowerhour will be on standby to help you.

Happy hunting!


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/10/challenge-on-the-verge/

Podcast: The wild flower that inspired LSD

In the latest episode of the Wild Flower (Half) Hour, Isabel Hardman explores some of your favourite nature reserves, learns about a very popular roadside verges plant, and discovers the plant that inspired the creation of LSD.


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/09/podcast-the-wild-flower-that-inspired-lsd/

Lily challenge-the highlights

A host of golden daffodils is this week’s highlight and featured image, fittingly from the heart of Wordsworth country!

A beautiful shot of our native wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus ssp pseudonarcissus taken at Grizedale by Wildflowerhour founder @issybryonyh

This gorgeous shot of the Snake’s-head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris was taken by Wildflowerhour member @JoAnnunaki

@potager_cook found Allium triquetrum flowering in North London, a pretty but invasive alien species.

The curious Butcher’s Broom, Ruscus aculeatus photographed by @KateGold24

After the recent significant  reclassification of the Lily family, Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, Gagea lutea, now considered by Stace, to be our only native member of the Liliaceae. This shot taken by @Huffy_Bird

Finally, several of you found bluebells just coming into bloom. This lovely shot of our native bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta is by @LeifBerwedsen

This week’s #wildflowerhour really felt as if Spring is here at last!

The rest of your fabulous #lilychallenge finds can be seen in the collection below.

Thank you so much for taking part!





from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/09/lily-challenge-the-highlights/

Daylilies are edible – how to eat from your flowerbed

‘Daylilies are edible’ I said to our guests. ‘So we’re going to dig some up this weekend and eat them.’

Everyone was very positive (although they may have been secretly googling ‘are daylilies edible?’ behind my back.)

It all started when I looked at our main flower border. The daylilies had got out of control. They were literally everywhere, smothering irises, roses and newly planted birch trees. But I don’t like throwing plants away, and was wondering who I could give them to.

But daylilies are edible!

Then I was sent a review copy of Incredible Edibles by Matthew Biggs and the RHS. There, under ‘Roots, bulbs and shoots’ was the information that ‘daylilies have been cultivated in China for centuries as medicinal and food plants.’

(Note: there are affiliate links to Amazon which means you can click through to buy, and I may get a small fee. It doesn’t affect the price you pay.)

Incredible Edibles by Matthew Biggs (DK Books)

Incredible Edibles by Matthew Biggs and the RHS – grow something different in your fruit and veg plot. The dish holds roasted daylily roots and the greens are daylily shoots.

And not it’s not only daylilies that are edible – according to Incredible Edibles, you can also eat dahlias, red orach, hostas, amaranth and fuschia berries, all of which I grow in my borders.

I then checked with James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution. This was the first book to introduce me to the idea of eating the roots of canna lilies, dahlias and other flower border plants. He confirmed that ‘all parts of daylilies are edible’ and that daylily flowers are sold for eating throughout east Asia.

So yes – you can eat the flowers, spent flowers, buds, shoots and roots of daylilies. I may never have to go to the supermarket again.

Daylilies are invasive

Just a small section of the main border – daylilies are crowding out everything else.

First identify your daylily

We set out to dig up the daylilies on Saturday afternoon, armed with a copy of Incredible Edibles, plus several mobile phones and tablets.

Identifying daylilies

Posy, Jacqui and I worry about identifying daylilies amongst the sisirinkian, irises and bulbs. The photo was taken by Sally Jones, another guest who ate the stir-fried daylilies and survived…

Firstly, daylilies are not lilies. They are ‘hemerocallis’ and grow from rhizomes, while lilies grow from bulbs. Lilies can’t be eaten, while daylilies are edible. It’s an important distinction.

Secondly, the emerging shoots of iris look quite like the emerging shoots of daylily. But iris is also toxic.

Other confusing shoots in the main border include sisirinkian and other bulbs, such as alliums and tulips. Although once the plants are in flower, it’s much easier to identify them all.

Daylilies, sisirinkian and bulbs

Many flowers in our flower beds look like daylilies, but only daylilies are edible. Check carefully!

Check several sources

There’s good growing and cooking advice for daylilies in Incredible Edibles. But it doesn’t have a good botanically accurate close-up of daylily roots and shoots. Neither does Homegrown Revolution.

However, there are good photos of day lily flowers in Incredible Edibles.  You can add the flower petals to salads, saute the buds or deep-fry partly-opened flowers as tapas.

Even so, flowers can be toxic. James Wong’s Twitter feed often fumes about fashionable bloggers who Instagram poisonous flower decorations on their food.

And, as we were eating the roots and shoots, we needed to know exactly what we were digging up. It’s especially important not to confuse daylily roots with iris rhizomes or bulbs. Check several sources, unless you are a botanist yourself.  These photos will help, but getting muddled could poison you. We checked several internet sites, and recommend you do too!

Daylilies are edible but check them carefully

Daylily roots and shoots in comparison with iris rhizomes and what a bulb looks like.

Puzzling detour…

While I was poking around the internet to make sure I didn’t poison us, I discovered things that were much odder than edible daylilies. There seems to be an awful lot of ‘edible underwear’ out there. And references to ‘edible printers’ ink’, which seems daft as printers’ ink is more expensive than caviar. And, really, which would you rather eat? Not to mention interesting questions like ‘are edible flowers kosher?’

If you can supply an answer to any of these conundrums, please do! Although not too much detail on the edible undies, please. Sorry, back to gardening again.

Divide your daylilies and roast some…

Matthew Biggs suggests that autumn or spring is a good time to divide clumps of daylilies. ‘It’s an opportunity to harvest some of the rhizomes.’

So that’s what we did. Sally and I dug the daylilies up, while Jacqui then washed the soil off the clumps of roots. She definitely had the bad end of the deal. It took about half an hour to clean off the soil, then take the tiny hairy roots off the daylily rhizomes to make them look like the photo below. We nibbled the roots raw and thought they were a bit like radish. Quite nice.

Daylily roots ready for roasting

Incredible Edibles and daylily roots ready for roasting in oil and garlic.

Dinner is ready…

Meanwhile the green shoots of the daylilies were easy to cut and clean. We stir-fried these with garlic. They were delicious, and tasted like something you might get in a Chinese restaurant, with a leek-onion flavour. So it’s likely that I’ve probably eaten stir-fried daylily leaves before without knowing it.

But we were disappointed in the flavour of the roasted daylily roots. I think we might have to be very hungry before we add them to the menu again. It might be useful if the world comes to an end…

Although stir-fried daylily greens will probably feature more often. I cut some of the shoots off still-planted plants to see how cut-and-come-again they are. They’ve grown about 6″ in only 10 days.

And what about Incredible Edibles?

Although edible flowers are very fashionable at the moment, I find it hard to get my head around eating plants that I normally grow for flowers. But I thought Incredible Edibles was really worth buying, because there’s no logical reason for our current division between plants you eat and ones you grow for decoration. I’m also growing salsola for the first time this year, and Matthew Biggs’ planting advice was very helpful (better than the seed packet!).

We switched back and forth from Incredible Edibles and Homegrown Revolution, as each had elements that the other didn’t. Matthew Biggs trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is very much a horticulturalist, so the growing advice was excellent. There are also useful sections on growing incredible edibles in pots, and in small gardens.

Incredible Edibles isn’t just about flowers you can eat – it covers a wide range of unusual edible plants – it would make a good present for someone who is interested both in grow-your-own and is adventurous about food.

James Wong is a botanist and part-Malaysian, and probably has a slightly better understanding of the food side of it. He writes that the best way to eat daylilies is to harvest the flowers immediately after they fade and dry them on a windowsill. ‘Once fully dried they are a staple ingredient in east Asia, used to thicken and add texture to soups and stews.’

I’m really excited about that, as it should keep me dead-heading my daylilies. So future guests will be nervously looking up ‘daylilies are edible’ on their tablets and mobile phones!

And if you’re also interested in using plants as medicine, read this post on medicinal plants to grow in your garden.

This week’s video on the Middlesized Garden YouTube:

This is the early April tour of my garden on the Middlesized Garden YouTube channel:

Pin for reference:

Edible daylilies and more exciting plants you can eat from Incredible Edibles by Matthew Biggs

Incredible Edibles by Matthew Biggs and the RHS – how to grow and eat surprising plants!


The post Daylilies are edible – how to eat from your flowerbed appeared first on The Middle-Sized Garden.

from The Middle-Sized Garden https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/daylilies-are-edible-how-to-eat-from-your-flowerbed/

Challenge: Find a member of the Lily family

A new week, a new challenge! This week we would like you to try and find a member of the Lily family. Sounds simple enough, right?

Except, If you have listened to the latest podcast you will know it is not that straightforward, with significant reclassification of this former family.

However for the purposes of our challenge we are happy for you to follow the taxonomy as detailed in The Wildflower Key by Francis Rose.

The Lilaceae is a large family of diverse forms. Typically it can be  characterised by the flowers having six equal, similar perianth segments and usually having six stamens.

The perianth may be separate or fused and usually the ovary is three-celled and superior.

Many species of the Lily family flower in the Spring and you may see the Fritillary, Fritallaria meleagris which is just beginning to bloom.

The Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, Gagea lutea is also a member of this family.

As are the more familiar favourites of Daffodil, Bluebell, Snowdrop, Spring Squill and the Summer and Spring Snowflakes.

The Alliums are also members of the Lilaceae. You may spot Ramsons or Wild Garlic, Allium ursinum or Three-cornered Garlic, Allium triquetrum.

Some less obvious family members include Butcher’s-broom, Ruscus aculeatus, the Solomon’s-seals and Asparagus!

Flowering slightly later in the season, the beautiful and enigmatic Herb-Paris, Paris quadrifolia is also a member of the Lily family.

So as ever, have fun seeing what you can find!

Post your images for #wildflowerhour Sunday 8th April between 8-9pm using the hashtag #lilychallenge.


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/03/challenge-find-a-member-of-the-lily-family/

Borage challenge-the highlights

This week’s #wildflowerhour quest was to find a member of the Borage family.

I confess that earlier in the week I had a couple of anxious moments about this challenge. With the recent cold weather would wildflowerhour members be able to find any Boraginaceae in flower?

Despite Spring seemingly being a couple of weeks late you are a determined bunch and as ever you rose valiantly to the challenge!

This week’s star image is this stunning photograph taken by @TrisNorton of an escaped garden forget-me-not. The petals almost look as if they are made of sugar paste!

Wildflowerhour members also found lots of lovely lungwort, the featured image is by @da_nd_e_lion

Also it was super to see Comfrey being seen and also Viper’s Bugloss!

This Creeping Comfrey, Symphytum grandiflorum was spotted by Wildflowerhour member @moiravelli

The rest of your wonderful #boragechallenge finds can be seen below.

Thank you all so much for taking part!


from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/02/borage-challenge-the-highlights/

Podcast: Wild flowers in the city

In the latest episode of the #wildflowerhour podcast, Isabel Hardman learns about botany in a city, and how wild flowers have adapted to London life, finds out about the flowers in our latest challenge, and hears a reading from Zoe Devlin’s beautiful book, Blooming Marvellous.


You can listen to this podcast on iTunes, Acast, Stitcher, Spotify and all other good podcast platforms. Just let us know if it doesn’t turn up on yours and we’ll add our feed. Please also considering leaving a review of the show as it helps other people find it more easily which means that more people will learn about how amazing the native flowers of Britain and Ireland really are.

from #wildflowerhour http://www.wildflowerhour.co.uk/blog/2018/04/01/podcast-wild-flowers-in-the-city/