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Edible flowers top this pretty salad

Recipe: Spring strawberry salad with fresh violets

Plate with strawberries, violets, lettuce and radishes
As fresh and pretty as spring: Strawberry salad with fresh violets. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

This vibrant spring salad is as flavorful as it is colorful. Both cut crosswise, fresh strawberries and radishes contrast nicely in both taste and texture. They look especially pretty combined with the rich greens of fresh spinach and leaf lettuce. (The variety used in this recipe: Red butterhead.)

The garnish is a conversation starter: Fresh violets. The white and blue varieties of Viola are edible.

Viola alba , the white perennial violet, is native to America’s woodlands. It’s a cast-iron ground cover in low-water gardens. It grows so easily, many gardeners consider it a weed. If you can’t beat it, eat it.

(Just make sure your violets haven’t been exposed to pesticides or herbicides.)

Pick your violets with about ½ inch of stem. Plunge flowers immediately into ice-
White violets in a bowl of water
Put just-picked violets into very cold water to keep
them fresh.

cold water. Keep them in cold water until ready to use.

Other varieties of Viola may be substituted for violets; the smaller the varieties, the tastier.

Spring strawberry salad with fresh violets

Makes 2 to 4 servings


4 to 6 strawberries, hulled and sliced crosswise

2 radishes, sliced

1 scallion, chopped

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

2 cups lettuce, roughly cut or torn into pieces

1 cup baby spinach leaves, roughly cut or torn into pieces


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon seasoning salt


2 to 3 tablespoons fresh violets or violas (optional)


In a large bowl, put sliced strawberries, radishes, scallions, lettuce and spinach. Toss lightly.

In a jar, combine olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar and seasoning salt. Cover jar and shake to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly again.

Divide salad onto plates. Garnish with violets or violas.

Serve immediately.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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