Friday, 15 July 2011

Borage

Borage flowers are so photogenic. Their five pointed petals are much loved in heraldic design, and they are also said to signify courage.

Borage Flower

The only problem is that the plants are a bit straggley and unkempt. They also self seed aggressively.  The flowers tend to point down to the ground and there are precious few recipes that call for borage. (Pimms No 1 is reputed to include borage in it's secret botanic blend). I have read of them being used as a supplement to ravioli filling, but the mature leaf is a fearsome tough thing so either young leaves or finely chopped ones would be required.

Borage plant

Archeitecturally it is a treat. Here are the hairy flower heads before the flowers emerge.


Flower head clusters

The other wonderfull thing about borage plants is that they are bee magnets. I always leave a couple of them to flower each year.

On the subject of weeds with few uses, here's an update on the spike from the Great Mullein plant:


Mullein - still reaching for the sky

And here is a mystery solved.  I allowed some nastutiums to grow alongside the brassicas in my nusery bed.  The other day it looked as if the dreaded cabbage white had devasatated them overnight!  On inspection there weren't any caterpillars in in sight.

Nasturtium carnage!
Then I remembered that in addition to torrential rain we had also had a hailstorm the other day.  I even took photos to prove we had hail in mid July:
The culprits - hailstones

Here's another borage snap - for courage.




12 comments:

  1. I have never grown or used borage but it certainly is very pretty.

    And what on earth is Great Mullein I have never heard of it...are you growing it on your allotment?? Is it edible in any form??

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  2. Borage is so pretty, there are some plants on our allotments but why they grow them I don't know!

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  3. I've grown borage from seed (sent by a blogger friend) this year. It has just been planted out and looks a bit sorry for itself but hopefully it will survive.

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  4. Tany, Mullein is a protected weed (as far as I am concerned). It just turned up on my plot. Year one, you get a woolly rosette about 2ft across. Year two, you get this dramatic flowering spike. Turns out the flower makes a tea that is good for chest problems. And Borage tea gives your heart a benign buzz.

    Ruth, Your neighbours may be growing borage as a companion plant. By reputation it is a good companion for "tomatoes, squash, strawberries and most plants". It also attracts bees - like a magnet!

    Sue, If your borage flowers you'll never need to sow seed again. It's good at self seeding!

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  5. Do you use the borage at all as a culinary plant??

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  6. I love the bee-friendliness of borage, but this is the first year for 10 years that I don't have self-seeded borage plants popping up. My one plant went wild, borage-on-steroids, and I pulled it up. You've tempted me to try again, and to be more relaxed about the seedlings. Perhaps.

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  7. I've never grown borage but may consider it next year. The flowers are beautiful and while I've never tasted them, I've read the flowers have a cucumber-y taste. I'm sure they would be great in a summer cocktail.

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  8. Ali, There are limited culinary uses, described here: http://www.herb.co.za/herbal/borage-recipes.htm

    Linda, borage keeps bouncing back!

    Thomas, The leaves are best at flavouring. I chopped some up finely and added them to a fruit cocktail recently and it worked very well - although it would have been better to have strained it before serving up.

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  9. And the bees just LOVE borage!

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  10. Love borage. Eat the flowers by holding on to the black centre and tug off the petals. It's high in potash and a few leaves make a reviving tea, but as it tastes very "green" I add an equal amount of mint, a little lemon balm and a sprig of sage. I call this little herbal cocktail Summer Breeze because it's so refreshing. The leaves also make a soothing hand cream so it's a real gardener's friend and the whole plant makes wonderful compost. More borage! x Is

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  11. In my garden plot, in the the first year I grew borage and you are so right it is such a self seeding plant, each year I get plants here and there, inc. this year. Its grown amongst the potatoes, I don't mind it too much though as you said the bees love it and they are certainly most welcome.

    I'm also using the flowers and the baby cucumber flavour leaves in salad.

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  12. Mal, you are a genius! Thank you so much!

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