Calendula, Calendula officinalis
This easy-to-grow annual responds to frequent harvest. The more you pick, the more flowers it will produce, so plan on harvesting almost every day once they start blooming, and you’ll be gifted with blossoms until die back. I usually let a few go to seed near the end so they can self-seed. The daisy-like petals are easy to separate from the flower head and can be scattered over salads. The petals can also be used to color and flavor butter, cheese and rice/pilaf dishes, acting like saffron but with a lighter impact. Dried petals make an especially colorful garnish for winter soups such as leek and potato or butternut squash. The whole flowerhead will impart a slightly bitter flavor, but adding just the petals adds a little extra nutrition and eliminates that bitterness.
Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus
To get the most pleasant experience out of eating carnations, the white base should be removed and the petals separated from the calyx (both very bitter). The clove-like tasting petals can be added to jellies, aspics, salads, herb butters and cordials.
Chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla and also Matricaria discoidea (wild chamomile/pineapple weed)
Small and daisy-like, chamomile flowers add a sweet flavor to almost anything. You can dry them to make a flavorful, relaxing tea, infused wine, herb-infused honey, ice pops or just add them fresh into salads. I love walking through my garden and just munching on them along the way. Pineapple weed is especially sweet tasting and has milder effects than German chamomile. You will know it by its pineapple-y smell and it’s large, rounded center with tiny, almost imperceptible petals. If you’re allergic to other members of the Aster family, you will likely be allergic to these, so use with caution.
Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium
Chervil flowers are delicate white blooms with an anise flavor. Chervil’s flavor is lost very easily, either by drying out the herb or applying too much heat. It should be incorporated in the final stage of cooking or added in its fresh, raw state to green and fruit salads.
Chicory, Cichorium intybus
Chicory has a pleasant, mildly bitter, earthy flavor that has been compared to endive. The petals and buds are eaten. Like dandelion, the buds can be pickled or fermented and will taste similar to capers.