Our only speaker today was Ginger Kaiser of Willows Floral in Lakewood, Colorado. She wanted to remind us that when buying cut flowers always inspect you flowers carefully and once you get them home clip the stems to insure that the cuts are clean. Then once a day change the water, don’t just add water to the vase, change it totally and if you want them to last a long time trim the stems each day. Ginger didn’t know what to talk about today so before the meeting she asked around for ideas of what other members wanted to hear about. The suggestion was made to discuss plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red so when planting try using red asters or red penstemon, which had red trumpet like flowers and is a perennial. Ginger has really good luck at her house with hanging baskets of red petunias. She really doesn’t to have hang hummingbird feeders, keeping mind if you are using feeders change the water daily. If the water is bland or has gone sour the hummingbirds won’t come back. Most of the flowers that attract hummingbirds will also attract butterflies, in addition to that you can add in white dragonflowers, which are similar to snapdragons and are perennials. The addition can be a butterfly bush, which come in a variety of colors and have a lovely fragrance. Ginger has one in her backyard that is called firecracker and actually blooms in muted tones of red, white and blue. It attracts butterflies all summer long! Another member suggest to Ginger to discuss some edible flowers commonly found in gardens. Through a little bit of research Ginger came up with these a few flowers that can be eaten. One should keep in mind for those that have asthma or hay fever that the pollen in fresh flowers is highly allergic and can cause reactions to sensitive individuals. First was the carnation, Carnations can be steeped in wine, candy, or use as cake decoration. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. Dianthuses are the miniature member of the carnation family with light clove-like or nutmeg scent. Use the petals to add color to salads or cakes. Carnation petals are one of secret ingredients that have been used to make Chartreuse, a French liqueur, since the 17th century. The white carnations can actually have a clove scent. Secondly is the chrysanthemum, they have a tangy, slightly bitter taste, ranging in colors from red, white, yellow and orange. They range in taste from faint peppery to mild cauliflower. They should be blanched first and then scatter the petals on a salad. The leaves can also be used to flavor vinegar. Always remove the bitter flower base and use petals only. Young leaves and stems of the Crown Daisy, also known as Chop Suey Greens or Shingiku in Japan and are widely used in oriental stir-fries and as salad seasoning. The cornflower was next on Ginger’s list, also called Bachelor’s button. They have a slightly sweet to spicy, clove-like flavor. The blooms can be used as a natural food dye. This flower is most commonly used as garnish. Ginger went on to discuss the dandelion which is actually a member of the daisy family. The flowers are sweetest when picked young and have a sweet, honey-like flavor. The mature flowers are bitter. Dandelion buds are tastier than the flowers: best to pick these when they are very close to the ground, tightly bunched at the center and about the size of a small gumball they are good raw or steamed. Young leaves taste good steamed, or tossed in salads. When serving a rice dish use dandelion petals like confetti over the rice. Our next edible flower was the day lily which has a slightly sweet with a mild vegetable flavor, like sweet lettuce or melon. Their flavor is a combination of asparagus and zucchini. Some people think that different colored blossoms have different flavors. To use the surprisingly sweet petals in desserts, cut them away from the bitter white base of the flower. The flowers look beautiful on composed salad platters or crowning a frosted cake. Sprinkle the large petals in a spring salad. In the spring, gather shoots two or three inches tall and use as a substitute for asparagus. Ginger’s note: Many lilies contain alkaloids and are NOT edible. Day lilies may act as a diuretic or laxative; eat in moderation. The next few Ginger covered quickly – the gardenia, which is commonly used in tea has a light sweet flavor. Gladiolas have a flavor similar to lettuce and when tossed with regular lettuce can make a boring salad bright and colorful. Another flower most commonly used for teas is the hibiscus, it has a cranberry like flavor with citrus overtones and can be served hot or cold. Lastly Ginger discussed the lilac: the flavor of lilacs varies from plant to plant. Lilac is very fragrant, slightly bitter, with a distinct lemony taste and a floral pungent overtone. It is great in salads and crystallized with egg whites and sugar. The last item of note that Ginger mentioned to us is that ornamental sweet peas and not edible and in reality are highly toxic!  If you are looking for a florist who knows all about the flowers she uses and can create any floral design created specifically for you, give Ginger Kaiser a call!

Ginger Kaiser * Willows Floral Design* 303-989-6446 * flower_queen@comcast.net