Borage’s Star Flowers Attract Bees

Borage is a versatile herb and an excellent addition to flower and vegetable gardens. Some of its alternate names are very descriptive–they include “Star Flower”, “Bee Bush” and “Bee Bread”.  I grew borage for the first time last year– as garden lore says, it is great to have around to attract bees and other pollinators.

This year,  several borage plants  came up on their own, conveniently, on the borders of the beds.  I love self seeders.  I planted some cherry tomatoes in the back unfenced garden this year–a small distance from the main plot where the self seeding didn’t reach.  Since borage is supposed to be very good for tomatoes, not only encouraging pollination, but also deterring tomato pests, I planted some borage seeds nearby.  Unfortunately, when they were three inches high some creature bit them off, leaving only tiny stem stubs behind. The prime suspects are a rabbit, deer, or porcupine. Oh well.

What can you do with Borage?  Last year I enjoyed the tall, fuzzy flowering plants and didn’t experiment with their edible leaves and flowers. This year, I was more adventurous and made borage tea using fresh leaves.  I added honey and ice–a very pleasant drink.  Some people float a few of the edible flowers on top and add a dash of lemon.  If you come across some fresh borage leaves, add one cup of boiling water to 1/4 cup of bruised (lightly crushed) leaves; steep for 5 minutes; strain, add honey, and drink hot, or chill for later.

Another use for borage  is making flavoured vinegar.  Since I have a steady supply of leaves, I am thinking of doing that–soaking the leaves for several weeks in a sealed bottle of vinegar to be used as a herby salad splash.  Young borage leaves are sometimes added to salads as an accent green.  People report a ‘cucumber’ flavour–not for me, but worth a try.

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