Pineapple guava. Also called feijoa, pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) is a South American shrub that produces edible fruits and extremely fragrant, fruit-flavored flowers. (The flowers also attract bees, butterflies and birds.) If you can’t wait until fall, when its fruit ripens, you can snack on the fleshy petals that bloom in early summer. Their flavor has been described as sweet, tart and even like a “minty marshmallow.” Eat them straight from the tree, sprinkle them in iced tea or make a jelly with them. Pineapple guava can be grown in a large pot, as shown in this container planting. It’s drought-tolerant, and the leaves will provide year-round interest when it’s not producing edible flowers and fruit. In my garden, the gray-green foliage coordinates with our modern, minimalist aesthetic.
Pansies and violas. In Victorian times, pansies and violas were sugared and eaten as candies. You also can gently rinse them and use them fresh to decorate a spring dessert. Their soft texture and vivid color can turn a simple white cake, like this one I baked last Easter, into a stunning centerpiece.
Nasturtiums. This is an easy-to-grow, prolific annual that climbs and spills into empty areas of an edible garden. First grown by the Incas in Peru and Ecuador, they come in many colors — even combinations of colors — so they will accentuate the palette of any outdoor room. A distant relative of watercress, nasturtiums have a peppery taste. Flowers and small, tender leaves can be added to salads for a peppery kick. The pea-size seeds can be pickled and used like capers.