With the RHS Chelsea flower show poised to open to the public, the results of the judging have been announced and the World Vision Garden has been awarded a Silver medal.
Sadly, the odd spring weather meant the tarwi plants didn’t produce their lovely blue flowers in time to be included in the garden. According to Chelsea visitor @ryansgarden, one of the plants is in bud and may flower – it’s planted in the right hand corner, so keep a look out for it if you’re watching the tv coverage (I believe the garden is going to be included in the Thursday lunch time programme, but I’m just going by the published schedule).
Still, there are plenty of other useful plants in the garden, and it does look stunning.
This sweet cicely is nestling among the nettles at the RISC garden, and no doubt the Chelsea version is a bit more coiffed, but sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) is a pretty perennial herb with white flowers. It has an aniseed flavour and is used in cooking – mostly with cooked fruit, as it is naturally sweet and can be used to reduce the sugar content. Apparently you can also eat the roots boiled as a vegetable, and the seed is used as a condiment and a breath freshener. The leaves can be used as a herbal tea, and are a part of some bouquet garnis.
Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is another perennial herb, and it’s one of several plants that have a vanilla-like scent/ flavour that’s caused by the presence of coumarin. It is used to flavour drinks, some of them alcoholic, and when dried the leaves make a nice addition to pot pourri and deter moths. The flowers are also eaten.
And those stunning tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) have their edible uses as well. Apparently the pith from the tree trunk is rich in starch and was used for food by the Tasmanian aborigines. And the unfurled leaves are known as Crozies, an edible green that has a rather slimy texture and can be bitter. So perhaps tree ferns are best appreciated for their ornamental qualities ;)
The lupins that didn’t make it into the garden (and spare seeds) have been given away, to Malvernmeet among others, so this may not be the end of the tarwi tales :)
If you’d like to try growing tarwi yourself this year, Plantify are now selling the seeds, with a donation made to World Vision for each packet sold.