Edible flowers are as pretty as can be in the garden, and they add both flavor and color to any dish served up in the kitchen.
Although edible flowers have become common garnishes in restaurants, it's important to know what you're putting into your mouth. Not all flowers are edible, and not all food purveyors are aware of the potential toxicity of some. The most common (and safest edible flowers) are nasturtium, pansy, violet, Johnny-jump-up, calendula, chive, and sage. These flowers are easily grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Many roses are delicious, but you need to be sure they are grown organically. A good rule of thumb is: If you cannot positively identify a flower as edible, don't eat it.
Pansies span every color of the rainbow, so you can have fun decorating food. Plan a party months ahead and grow pansies to match your decor, best outfit, or favorite color. Their flavor is slightly minty.
Borage's star-shape blossoms practically fall off the plant when they are ready to eat. They have a mild cucumber flavor that is delicious in lemonade.
If you have asthma, hayfever, or other allergies, do not eat flowers. Remove the pistils, anthers, and stamens before eating any flowers.
Never eat flowers from a nursery, garden center, or florist; they are likely to have chemical residues that concentrate in the flowers.
Flower flavors vary with variety (20 different roses will all taste somewhat different) and with growing conditions. As with any herb or spice, you may not like the flavor of all flowers -- that's OK.