A favourite of foodies, these flowers are always a topic of conversation at a summer lunch

Edible flowers are often used to add elegance to salads, decorate desserts or dress up a dinner plate. Other blossoms, such as squash, are stuffed and fried. A favourite of foodies, these flowers are always a topic of conversation at a summer lunch.

Last summer I was asked to decorate a friend's wedding cake with edible flowers. Her wedding colours included many shades of purple, so on the morning of the wedding, I was out in my garden cutting bouquets of organic lavender and rinsing them under fresh cool water. Then I headed off to the hall to meet the baker.

The cake was elegant with its white matte icing. Holding my breath, I slid the lavender blossoms off the stalks and randomly spread them over the cake. The lavender speckled the cake beautifully with what I called lavender confetti. In hindsight, it would have been nice to include some pink, white, or yellow lavender blossoms, but the cake was a hit and the guests thought the lavender was a unique touch. I recommend lavender blooms for cakes, cookies and ice cream.

Whenever you include flowers in a menu, be sure they are grown free of chemicals. Pick them in the cool of the day and give them a gentle rinse with cool water. Air-dry or gently blot with a towel. Give them a once-over for pests or damaged petals. Store flowers in the fridge until you're ready to use them.

When using edible flowers, make sure you know what parts are edible. With some flowers only the petals are edible, whereas with others the whole blossom and leaves may be included.

Here are other edible flowers you can use to decorate or add to salads:
Mustard flowers - Bright-yellow colour, with a slightly spicy taste.

Chive blossoms - Pretty in pink with a slight chive taste.

Nasturtiums - Various colours of orange to pink, spicy. Leaves are also edible.

Roses - Colourful and sweet-tasting; be sure to use only the petals.

Calendula
- The prettiest orange colour; be sure to use only the petals.

Violas - Great selection of colour and sweet-tasting; the whole flower is edible.

Rosemary blossoms
- Available in pink or blue, they have a rosemary flavour.

Broccoli blossoms
- Yellowy-green, with a broccoli taste. Perfect for salads.

Borage - Bright-blue petals with a light cucumber taste.

Lilac blossoms - Lemony taste and purple, white or pink colour.