A floral feast
Devon Life|September 2020
A floral feast
From cocktail bars to Bake Off, a Devon grower supplies gastronomes across the country with a feast of flowers – all of which are edible, discovers CATHERINE COURTENAY
CATHERINE COURTENAY

A sign of summer in the kitchen of Janice James is a bowl of freshly-picked salad. A variety of green leaves will always be interlaced with a scattering of colourful, edible flowers, perhaps orange nasturtiums, blue cornflowers or pink dianthus.

Hesperis, or sweet rocket, grown by Janice.

Janice has always grown her own salads. Popular with her own family, and friends too, she started to sell her colourful salad bags to fellow parents in the school playground, and then at market in Exeter.

Shungiku or edible chrysanthemum.

She reveals: “When I started selling to local restaurants I realised that although they loved the variety of leaves, having flowers upped the ante, as you couldn’t get them anywhere else.”

The bright orange blooms of Californian poppies.

It was time for the flowers to take over. Janice launched Greens of Devon in 2008, focusing entirely on edible flowers and herbs. She and partner Ivan had always grown their own veg and fruit, without chemicals, on an allotment in Exeter, but by 2008 they had a plot of land at Silverton where Ivan was setting up a vineyard. This new space gave Janice the chance to grow flowers in profusion, and start selling by mail order to addresses across the country.

Cornflowers are also popular

One of the keys to Greens’ success is the packaging, as Janice says: “As soon as flowers are picked and open to the air they will dehydrate and wilt.”

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September 2020