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!