Eat your flowers!

A family enjoying Ham grown produce in the kitchen garden.

Visit from June onwards to discover more about our living exhibition in the kitchen garden that will enable you to taste flowers on garden tours, learn about their nutritional value and then eat more as ingredients in our tasty Orangery café food.

The kitchen garden at Ham House is celebrating over 300 years of edible flowers this summer.  Inspired by recipes from the seventeenth century and by how popular edible flowers are today, the garden team have planted a whole plot full of plants with edible flowers, all of which would have been grown here in the 1680s.

All the flowers growing on our ‘Eat your flowers!’ plot were grown in seventeenth century England to use in the kitchen or still room – there are recipes from this time using flowers as ingredients. 

In grand houses like Ham, the pantry would have stored bottles of rose-water and rose oil. Glass jars would contain vinegars flavoured with roses, cowslips, pinks and carnations. Conserves and syrups would have been made with borage, violets, lavender and rosemary. Boxes of candied flowers would hold marigolds cut into wedges. Individual petals would be preserved in sugar or made into ‘drops’ or pastes. Flowers would have been pickled for salads and eaten throughout winter.

Please take a walk around the plot and pick up a leaflet listing all the flowers we are growing and try some today in our café.

Please remember:

  • Not all flowers are edible, in fact some are poisonous.
  • Only flowers grown without pesticides are edible.  Flowers from florists and nurseries should not be eaten.
  • People with allergies should not eat flowers.
  • As a general rule only the petals should be eaten.
  • Flowers taste different depending where they are growing: they might taste horrible!