French name: Bourrache
A couple of years ago some friends of ours gave me a few Borage seedlings from their garden.
Borage has beautiful, vivid blue, star-shaped flowers and furry stems and leaves. Its common names include; starflower, bee bush, bee bread and bugloss and on a sunny day you can see why as it becomes a magnet for bees and other pollinators. As a haven for pollinators it’s the perfect companion plant for your vegetable plot and is particularly good to plant next to strawberries, tomatoes and squash. You can find my top 10 list for companion plants for your vegetable plot in my blog here.
To say that Borage is free seeding would be an understatement, what were just 3 small seedlings a couple of years ago, today has become sea of blue in the corner of my potager.
Not only is Borage beautiful to look at and a wonderful source of nectar for the bees, but it is also a herb and is therefore edible.
I have to admit that I’ve been too much of a wimp to try out the edible aspect of the plant, but it is said that the young leaves have a fresh cucumber-like flavour and can be used in soups, pasta sauces and salads. The blue flowers have more of a sweet honey-like cucumber taste and can again be used in salads, as garnishes or frozen in ice cubes to be added to your favourite drink; it’s an absolute must in your Pimms, that bit I can vouch for!
Borage has over the years been used for many medicinal purposes, one old wives’ tale even states that ‘if a woman slipped a bit of borage into a promising man’s drink, it would give him the courage to propose.’
Sow Borage seeds undercover from March, or direct in well-drained soil from April-July and in 10-12 weeks you’ll have these lovely flowers amass until the first signs of frosts. Borage can be grown in full sun but it does best planted in partial shade, in a sheltered position. Once sown, you’ll never have to do it again!
It’s too late to sow this lovely flower this year, but when planning your vegetable plot for next year, I’d certainly recommend that this be on your list of ‘must haves,’ if not to eat, then just to enjoy watching the bees dance around on.
If anyone has actually cooked with Borage I’d love to know what you used it in and how it tasted, maybe then I’ll be a bit braver!