Pansy flowers as a garnish.

If the food in this cafe was not already delicious by itself, today it was beautifully garnished by their chefs. They have used freshly picked pansies – plants from the viola family. Pansy flowers are actually edible and are sometimes seen in salads,along with other edible flowers such as nasturtiums and calendula. This time they have combined them with sprigs of rosemary, to make the perfect garnish. It is a simple idea for your next dinner party.

Pansies also make great pressed flowers which can be used on gift cards. Of course the big old phone books used to be perfect for this, but you ca also buy a flower press.

Pansies are in full flower during spring, but you won’t find that many for sale in your local nursery because the little seedlings are best planted the autumn and winter to be flowering at their best in the spring. You can however buy them in advanced pots for some instant colour.

Pansy flowers are larger during the cooler weather. In colder climates in Europe, the large flowering pansies will flower much larger than in the warmer climates of Australia. As we head towards summer, the pansy plant will actually flower smaller during the hotter weather. It also tends to stretch and although some of the newer hybrid varieties can be cut back and grown again, most gardeners treat them as an annual and remove them. Petunias are a similar alternative, but of course are not edible.

Pinching off flowers will also encourage new  flowers. Watering the base of the plant and keeping the flowers dry will prolong flower life immensely. Water pansies earlier in the day rather than late at night andthis will help prevent diseases like mildew occurring. Liquid feed regularly t o maintain good plant health.

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