When my mother was alive, she would go out in my backyard, cut flowers, interesting greens, flowering branches, and even flowering weeds, and make the most beautiful floral arrangements. She would set them around my house in small vases. Even her choice of containers was unusual, antique blue bottles, ceramic jars, and porcelain or metallic bowls. Her sense of style and creativity was legendary.
Monday, I needed to come up with a floral arrangement for my book club, the Book Hunters’, annual luncheon. As I stood in my backyard early in the morning watering vegetables, I wondered WWMD? What would Mom do? I had gorgeous leaves of every shape, size, color, and texture. Some of my herbs were flowering. I got the idea to make an edible arrangement using one thing from every vegetable and herb growing in my yard. I got a bucket, filled it with water and started picking. I ended up with this.
Unfortunately, it lacked oomph.
I made a quick SOS call to my flower-arranging friend and fellow Book Hunter, Mary. Could she come over a little before the meeting and pretty this arrangement up? Mary, my mother’s name, by the way, arrived and got busy arranging while I searched the garden for more color.
I picked flowers, seed pods, garlic scapes and even a few flowering stems from my beloved Heirloom Desiree Dwarf Blauwschokkers pea plant. It was painful to cut that one knowing those flowers would have turned into peas. Purple peas, no less.
These purple peas become a focal point wherever they show up, whether growing on the vine, served as a side dish, or used in an arrangement. This a fun plant to grow, readers.
By the time everyone arrived, Mary had worked her magic, and we had an arrangement full of color, texture and whimsy. And all of it was edible.
Leaves: Winterbor Kale, Red Russian Kale, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Kookaburra Spinach, Red Romaine, Freckled Romaine, Red Oak Leaf Lettuce, Alcosa Cabbage, Red Clover, Red Ace Beet, Bull’s Blood Beet, Hakurei F1 Hybrid Turnip, Easter Egg Radish, Lorane Improved Broad Fava Bean, Spring Onion
Plumes: Dill, Jersey Knight Asparagus, Calliope Blend Carrots, Scarlet Nantes Carrots, Purple Haze F1 Carrots
Shapes: Sugar Snap Pea, Oregon Sugar Pod 2, Desiree Dwarf Blauswshokkers, Garlic
Flowers: Arugula, Sage, Red Meat Radish
More flowers: Mustard, Pea, Parsley, Garlic
Mom would have approved. The chickens did.
The story didn’t end there. Last night, I deconstructed the arrangement to make dinner. I placed parts to be sautéed in one bowl, parts for a salad in another, flowers for a small arrangement in a vase and stems and such in the compost bucket for the chickens.
I sautéed the vegetable and herbs with spring onions and garlic in olive oil, mixed in four cups of leftover cooked farro and added the meat from a rotisserie chicken. When the food was all mixed, seasoned, and heated, I squeezed lemon juice over all of it and stirred in grated parmesan cheese. We had it for dinner.
For more details about planting a spring vegetable garden, check out this post: Urban Farming: Spring Planting. I also have a post called Urban Farming: Fall Planting if you are thinking of taking the plunge into backyard farming this Fall.
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33 thoughts on “WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece”
Ok I am going back to bed– I am tired after all the picking ,constructing,deconstructing , and cooking!!!
Hahaha! But it was so much fun, Tori!
There you go again, Judy, astounding me with your creativity, thoughtful inspiration, talent galore, love and care for living things, love of our earth by using-not abusing, your always-interesting stories, and a dear heart. xo
Thank you, Libba, for those sweet words. Everything you said describes you, girlfriend. xo
Oh, that DOES make me want to return to Book Hunters! Or perhaps what I really want is to come graze in your yard like a horse. I am so glad your mother lives on and that “our” Mary is always there to help.
When you can take all kinds of greenery out of your garden and yard and make floral arrangements to place throughout the house and then cook the remains with other compatible stuff and EAT IT, you’re in another category of geniuses altogether. Your mom is looking down (she just gave St. Peter and the angels a brunch break), smiling, clapping her hands(wings) in glee, and shouting (broke a few harp strings) with reckless abandon: “That’s my girl!!”
Rev. Dolores, I love you, Sister! Alleluia. Most touching comment I have ever received. Thank you. xo
Wonderful arrangement, Judy and Mary! (And gives me ideas for when I host my book group here next month. Thanks!)
I know now what is missing in my life – a book club that has annual lunches with edible floral arrangements!
And, now those of us who are not so brilliant can hear our mother’s are asking why they don’t have such clever children.
One Unclever Child
I am not ready for any one of my Jersey Knight spears to go ferny. That is lovely. I may copycat. I only wish we had a fall gardening season in Minnesota. Ours is called ‘putting the garden to bed for winter.’
This is my first year growing asparagus so I had to let the thin spears go ferny. Also, I love the long growing season in the South. When I lived in Boston, that was not the case. Thanks for writing.
What a lovely idea – and a wonderful belated homage to Mother’s Day. My mother is a gardener and I get the best ideas from her. Thanks for sharing these ideas and beautiful photos.
Thanks, Ginger! Cheers to creative moms and what they have taught us over the years!
Judy: I found this blog an absolute delight! Wish I were one of your Book Hunters. Currently I am reading a non-fiction book, The King and Queen of Malibu. If you are at all familiar with coastal Southern California, this is well written history about a Bostonian who went out and helped build the area. A huge battle ensued when people wanted to cut through his property and build what is now the Pacific Coast Highway. On another subject, Marion just shipped my first order of clothes to me. I ordered the same colorful pants in the navy print. Fun! Fondly, Annie Sent from my iPhone
Annie, the “King and Queen of Malibu” sounds marvelous. I love non-fiction, too. I’m reading “Locally Laid” a true story about raising chickens. It’s terrific. About the clothes from http://www.detailsandgoods.com, I wear those pants almost every other day. Love them! Love the pink spandex ones, too. Glad you two finally connected.
I love your gardening tips. I’ve been gardening for two years in four raised garden beds. I too planted my radishes too close together and will try not to do that in the fall. I hate to “thin out” potential radishes but I hope I have learned my lesson. I have two rows of beautiful radish flowers though and will taste them in a few minutes. My husband will be surprised to see them in his salad. I live just down the road in Brentwood so it’s nice to know that we share the same seasons and weather.
Frannie, I think I went to an art class you taught years ago. You made those small, mitered square blocks, à la Mason-Dixon Knitting.
About the gardening, I still have a hard time thinning seedlings. Don’t know if that will ever change! Meanwhile, haven’t we had the best weather for growing vegetables this Spring?! Thanks for writing!
You ARE amazing, Judy! What a great tribute you are to your mom! I agree with what Dolores said. No doubt your mom is pleased!
I am amazed at all the different varieties of veggies you are growing & love it that you share your knowledge & creativity via these posts.
Thanks & keep up the good work!
Thanks, Susie. Time for you to come over and paint those leaves!
Your blog is such a treat. I just got home from baby days of babysitting a two-year-old. I don’t even bother to take a computer when I go do that. So this morning I am happily catching up on what I’ve missed here. Love the arrangement. My gardening skills are lacking, but I like the idea of mixing what it available. We have lots of Queen Anne’s Lace blooming on the side of the road now. Wonder what I could find to go with it?
I love Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s my favorite “roadsidia” flower! It’s a good one for mixing and matching. I know you’ll be happy to get back to blogging — it’s such a fun creative outlet.
Truly enjoyed your blog post. I want a book club, a flower arranging friend, and purple peas! You are blessed, and it sounds like you give thanks for that daily and appreciate your surroundings. Herbal blessings!
Thank you,Carolee. I give thanks, often.