Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bean Blossoms

One of the summer crops most delightful and best kept secrets are their flowers. While it's easy for the mind to skip from seed to fruit, the first flower that gives a an early taste of pleasure to the gardener or farmer. Eggplant's lavender blossoms with their yellow pinpoint centers are almost pretty enough to raise on their own. Tucked under the signature purple tinted leaves and deep colored stems, it becomes a breathtaking plant that happens to produce a tasty and versatile vegetable. Similarly, a flowering potato offers up a handful of pretty little blossoms in white or purple, depending on the variety below, to signal the arrival of the first little tubers. Tomatoes, it must be said, offer a rather nondescript bloom; however, it could be argued that the beauty of its flower lies in the near magical formation over the course of days of a fruit multiple times its size.

This year, the surprise bloom for me belongs to the bean. My daily walk to the garden takes me past the greenhouses and cabbage fields nearly ready for harvest and the bean field. It affords ample opportunity to admire and notice the changes occurring daily. Ever rising, the vines are already taller than I am with wide lush green leaves. Most recently, the first flowers have appeared. Resembling nothing so much as miniature orchids they hang from the ends of stems tempting passing pollinators with the promise of a sweet beverage. In some cases tiny beans – fractionally longer perhaps than my fingernail – join them. While my heart delights, I confess my mouth also waters at the thought of a simple batch of these green lovelies whipped up in the style of Goma ai Shungiku or with lots of garlic and tomatoes like my good friend Maan makes.

Got a favorite vegetable flower? Let's hear it!


Julia Munroe Martin said...

I love vegetable flowers! And I agree that bean blossoms are beautiful, as are pea blossoms (here in Maine, we haven't had either yet!). So far, the only vegetable/herb that's bloomed in our garden is chives -- which I absolutely love the flower of! We are growing potatoes for the first time so I'm looking forward to enjoyng those flowers, too.

Anjuli said...

I'm learning so much from your posts- I am totally ignorant when it comes to it is great to learn more. Although I did have a vegetable garden while in Ghana- I did not 'notice' the flowers-- I did grow beans and had not noticed the flowering ...just ate the beans when they were ready- I loved the picture of the delicate little flower.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Me, too, Julia! The chives are blooming like mad in the garden at the moment, but the rains have kept me out for the time being.

Anjuli, I think this is the first time I've really looked at the flowers. It's one of the pleasures and benefits of being at the farm so often and for an extended period of time. Glad you liked it!

bookworm said...

I've always loved looking at vegetable flowers. The scarlet runner bean's blossoms are so beautiful they are worth growing just for that-we can't though as we have a very big groundhog problem and these plants are groundhog candy. Another favorite, when I lived in Arkansas, was purple okra. I hate okra but the plants are very ornamental. Here in upstate NY it doesn't get hot enough for long enough. I'm going to pay more attention to these flowers now.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Oh, I've got to check out purple okra now! The green variety is grown here mostly, and I've been sorely tempted to grow it for the flowers, too. I had no idea. I'm looking forward to the scarlet runner beans, too. I've planted them this year for the first time both in the garden and for the green curtain.