Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Rays of sunshine after the storms

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) or Oyster Plant is one of those veg that is interesting to grow but a bit of a disappointment - the edible roots have a delicate flavour but are not that interesting and I think they are fiddly to prepare. But what most cook books don't mention is that the flower buds are delicious in stir fries, the flowers are beautiful and the seed heads are amazing giant "dandelion clocks". So now I have self-seeded plants all around the garden and I don't bother about harvesting the roots.

Another odd veg that I love to grow is the Tree Onion. Instead of flowers, little tiny onion bulbs develop on the top of the main stalk and sometimes they in turn have tiny bulblets on the top too. The result is a wild green sculpture (the little onion bulbs can be broken off and scattered in salads - they have quite a kick!)

And here are the Purple Podded Peas, this year they have pride of place in the rose bed climbing up new metal obelisks. They are looking really healthy and I'm looking forward to the mauve and purple flowers and then the purple pods.


  1. Is that a salsify flower? Does it get a huge fluffy head on it? I thought it was some kind of onion! I took a photo of one here:


    Maybe you can confirm for me that it is indeed a salsify flower? They're all over the allotment complex - very pretty!

  2. Hi Ashleigh
    Yes the purple flower is Salsify. It's a kind of Goat's-beard also known as Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, a wild flower that's common on roadsides in England (the flowers usually shut at midday). The seedheads are enormous - each seed then takes off with it's own little parachute and they plant themselves all over the garden. Try picking some unopened flower buds with about 10cm of stalk attached and add them to a stir fry.

  3. I love the seed heads. I had one all ready to photograph but then it rained! They really are amazingly pretty up close :) Thanks so much for the information!

  4. They look beautiful.
    Where could we buy salsify to eat for the Great Big Veg Challenge?

  5. That's a good question GBVC - the roots would be available in autumn. I think some of the more specialist greengrocers could supply them - along with the very similar Scorzonera which has black skinned roots. As for the flower buds you need to pick and use them fresh - I've never seen them for sale. But when you get to S in the challenge I'll see what's in my garden for you.
    I learnt from Joy Larkcom that the flower buds were edible - she's my gardening hero and the person who introduced baby salad leaves to the UK, look out for her books on all sorts of veg, salads and oriental veg. It was her mis-hearing of the italian "insalatine" as "saladini" that introduced the word to the English language!

  6. Hmmmmmm. I'm not sure these are the same things that are growing in my Dad's garden... They look similar but are less, ummm, curly and sprouty! Do all those curly bits disappear? Will have to show this to my Dad and see what he thinks!


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