Flower of the Week!

Garlic Scapes

A whole bunch of years ago (how’s that for elegant writing?) I planted a whack of garlic in my neighbour’s front yard when she wasn’t looking.  And then I didn’t tell her about it.  Ever.

Too afraid to do something like that?  You shouldn’t be.  What’s life without a little fun and trespassing?  Live a little.

Come early summer she had a whole patch of these weird curly things growing in her front yard and she couldn’t figure out what they were for the life of her.  My neighbour, is of the older persuasion and therefore easy to trick.  I told her I had no idea what they were.  I even shrugged my shoulders for added effect.

She did the same, and left the curly plants to grow where they wanted.

Come the late summer, I had garlic.   I sneaked over under the cover of darkness, dug it up and took it home.  She was none the wiser.   Those elderly.  So easy to fool.

Except she wasn’t.  She knew all along.  She was just humouring me.  I think it was the utter stink of the garlic that tipped her off.  That plus the fact that I routinely went on and on about how much I wished I had enough room and sun in my front yard to grow garlic.

That garlic has been growing in her front yard for close to 10 years now.  It’s my little patch of garlic heaven.  Well, technically it’s her little patch.  You know, according to the land survey and all.


My elderly neighbour (whose favourite movie is Pulp Fiction) went away for a few days recently and while she was gone I sneaked back over to her front yard and cut the tips off her/our/my garlic.  Just for old times sake.  ‘Cause I’m fun.  And a rebel.  And we all know, nothing says “rebellious fun” like sneaking over to your elderly neighbours garden to prune vegetables that are technically yours, under the cover of dusk because you want to make sure you make it home in time to watch Hoarders.

When garlic reaches the point where they grow “scapes”, you need to pinch them off.  That way the plants energy goes towards growing the garlic bulb as opposed to the flower (or scape) on top.

Using garlic scapes in recipes has become popular lately because of their mild garlic flavour and let’s face it … trendiness.  (See my friends’ Jenny and Neil’s blog Communal Table for a few garlic scape recipes)

I however, being a fun loving rebel, chose to use the scapes in a somewhat less traditional way.

I like to use scapes in floral arrangements.  See?  Rebel.  And fun!  If you’re looking for an arrangement with aroma … this one’s got ya covered.  Pairs well with a nice tortellini.

I’ve done up a few different examples for you to show you the versatility of the stolen, garlic scape.


Simple Scape Arrangement

Simple white jug from Ikea

Whimsical Kitchen Arrangement with Scapes


Contemporary Scape Arrangement


Casual Garden Flower Arrangment with Scapes

The lacy looking hydrangeas at the back of the arrangement were stolen out of my previously mentioned, elderly neighbour’s garden.

She’ll probably never notice. I’m almost positive she’s senile. Twice in the past 10 years she’s forgotten to put out her garbage and she repeatedly addresses me as Martha.  Plus she’s never called the cops on me.  Senile.

Now, I’m not encouraging you to steal (yes I am) and I’m not suggesting you should pick things from your neighbour’s gardens (when they’re looking).  What I am saying in this little post of mine is to remember to look at things a little differently.  Invent.  Improvise.  Have fun. Use things in a way they aren’t meant to be used.   Use scapes as floral pieces, plant vegetables in your front yard (or your neighbour’s front yard), chung a beverage out of a mason jar.

Live a little.  And when in doubt, deny everything.


  1. ELysia says:

    Love this post! Very funny ….. and INSPIRING! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Lauren says:

    Those are very cool. Facinating, like the twisty bamboo. I love that tall square vase. Do the scapes have a strong garlic aroma? I’m picturing a nice arrangement on the table for an Italian meal.

    • Karen says:

      Lauren – The scapes don’t really smell. They do when you first cut them, but the scent comes from the cut part of the stem which is under water. If you *wanted* them to smell you could just rub your fingernail along the green to let the scent escape. Like it would when you rub herbs. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Oh! And thanks … the vase is from Dollarama! ~ karen

    • Lauren says:

      By the way, all of your suggested antics should be done under the light of the full moon. Makes it much more clandestine.

  3. Pam'a says:

    I learned a new word! I’d never heard of garlic “scapes.” Thanks!

    It puts me in mind of “ramps,” some sort of garlic relative I’d never heard of until a few years ago: http://southernfood.about.com/cs/ramps/a/ramps.htm

    And I’m with you– It’s fun using the odd bits in arrangements. Those things look like bird heads.

  4. Adrienne Audrey says:

    Well hopefully your neighbor doesn’t read your blog! lol

    • Karen says:

      PFttt. She probably reads the New York Times or something stupid like that. What a waste of eyeballs. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ k

  5. Connor says:

    They’re so whimsical!

  6. jen says:

    By complete accident, I stumbled onto your site recently. Lucky for me because you are a hoot (and kinda bad ass, too)! I am looking forward to my trek through your the archives. cheers!

  7. Leanne says:

    I didn’t know garlic was so twirly. How fun is that! (also I wish someone who lived next to me would plant yummy pretty things in my yard. all i get is the neighbors’ dogs’ poop.)

  8. Mindy says:

    Perfect. I love them. I shall try it with my walking onions. They’re curly on the top just like that.

    P.S. I planted corn in my neighbor’s side yard a couple weeks ago. Shhh, don’t tell him.

  9. SK Farm Girl says:

    They’re brilliant, those little garlic scapes, simply brilliant!!! So what is the secret to growing garlic; I’ve never had much luck? I have to agree with Lauren, “your suggested antics should be done under the light of the full moon”. The little ol’ blue-bottle next door can’t be too bad if her fav’rit movie is “Pulp Fiction”! Can’t wait to gain the status of “little ol’ blue-bottle” myself!!

  10. Julie shinnick says:

    So cute!

  11. Oh, this is priceless…in a funny (the story) and beautiful (the arrangements) way!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing…

  12. Carole says:

    SOOO Art nouveau.

  13. Amy says:

    How fun! Does all garlic grow scapes like these or is there only a particular type? I would love to grow some garlic. However if it needs lots of sun, I might have to resort to planting them in my neighbor’s yard too!

    • Karen says:

      Amy – I’ll do a post on planting garlic in the fall. But in answer to your question, no .. not all garlic will grow a scape. Soft necked garlic does not, while hard necked does. ~ k~

      • sera says:

        I was just going to comment that you should remind us all to plant garlic in the fall. except that I can’t wait – these are so gorgeous and lovely!

  14. Amie says:

    Freaking cool! You have inspired me to pillage from more gardens….

  15. Robyn says:

    I love garlic scapes….I however would run those babies through my food processer and onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and straight to the freezer! After being frozen I would then break/cut them up into small bits to add to dishes for just a bit of flavor! Yummmo…..now I would save some for arrangements love your ideas!

  16. cred says:

    tell me more! I can’t plant in my neighbours yard (perimeter fencing & dog poop).

    But I like the idea of planting amongst the flowers- my garlic bed doesn’t get enough light and seem to be slow-growing. I spaced mine about 10″ apart (what the guy told me) but yours looks closer. Since you’ve being doing this for a whole bunch of years, I love to know how you do it and if you still get large bulbs when it grown closely to other plants.

    • Karen says:

      Cred – Garlic planting post coming in the fall. (’cause that’s when you plant garlic) But trust me … it’s easy. ~ karen

  17. Sharon says:

    Another reason to plant garlic. I just called my nursery and they’ll be getting it in next month. ๐Ÿ™‚
    You can have your garlic scapes and tortellini in a vase. Use a double vase with the tortellini between the glass, like cranberries at Christmas. (Although I like what you’ve done better.)

    By the way, last night I used your hot water method to revive some hydrangeas. Thanks for the tip. Now, have you had any success using food color in the water to darken their color? Mine don’t seem to be absorbing it. (They’re still beautiful. They’ve reached that “after-blue-turning-green-again” stage.)

    • Karen says:

      Sharon – I’ve only tried dying commercial mums with food colouring and I had no luck at ALL. You need to use an alarming amount of dye and the flower needs to be prepped to absorb it. Some flowers are easier than others. I don’t imagine a flower with a woody stem like a hydrangea would be very easy. ~ karen

  18. Melissa says:

    This is so great – and funny timing! Just yesterday my husband and I were in a Stratford deli looking at these weird bags of green twirly things. The deli guy told me what they were, but he NEVER suggested putting them in arrangements, nor to plant them in your neighbour’s yard, nor to steal them under the cloak of darkness. I guess that’s why he’s just owning a little deli in Stratford and you, dear Karen, have the exalted position of blogger of all things inventive and smart! Thanks for the great ideas – as always!

  19. stephanie says:

    wait a minute!!! was that a f@#%ing concrete antler I saw!!!????

    • Karen says:

      Stephanie – Huh? I’m not sure. I have several antlers i this house. The one in front of the contemporary arrangement you mean? It’s metal. And a candle holder. But yes, an antler! ~ karen

      • stephanie says:

        I was referring to my prophetic dream of you making concrete antlers…while in a cage….with a tired bear…….

        • Karen says:

          OH! I forgot about that dream. I guess it was so normal, it just didn’t stick with me. Dream something strange next time why doncha? ~ k

  20. Holly says:

    hehe, this post made me laugh a lot. You are so funny!
    Question though- do the scapes smell like garlic? That may be a stupid question. Not that I’m opposed to that heavenly smell being all up in my flowers. I’m just wondering because in all my obsession with garlic I never knew what it even looked like growing from the ground…

  21. Talia says:

    I can’t read your blog at work anymore. Laughing at a computer screen may well get me committed!

    Last week I snuck into my neighbor’s yard to mow his lawn. It was out of control. It never dawned on me to use it for my own personal use. After all, if I am going to maintain it, I might as well get some veggies out of the deal! Brilliant idea you had there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Angela says:

    there are tons of these are the farmer’s market right now, and they are yummy. Try them on some flatbread with cheese, very yummy!!!

  23. Denise says:

    I love this garlic bouquet! I’ve got a random onion growing in my backyard. This winter, I’m gonna plant some garlic!

  24. Brandi says:

    Do the ‘scapes’ fill the room with a garlic smell? Sounds yummy with a glass of wine!

    • Karen says:

      Brandi – No smell. Not unless you rub your nail along the stem. Then there’s *lots* of scent. Your choice. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ karen

  25. I love these! I want! Question: if I plant garlic will it keep those big fat squirrels out of my yard?

    • Karen says:

      Felicia – I don’t know! But I doubt it. ๐Ÿ™ If squirrels are getting at your tulip bulbs, clip thorny rose branches and scatter them all over the dirt where the bulbs are planted. Lots of them. It helps with the squirrels getting at your bulbs. ~ karen

      • Alissa says:

        How about keeping vampires away?

        • Rose campion says:

          I think it depends on which kind of vampire. I don’t think it keeps away the sparkly in the daylight vampires, but yes to the old school Bram Stoker vampires.

  26. Hey Karen – thanks for the mention (all all the traffic!). One of these days/years, I’m going to plant garlic if only to have my own supply of scapes to do with what I please. Until then, our precious supply of market-purchased scapes will have to be reserved for cooking… though the flower arrangement thing is a really cool idea. (Of course, if we tried this, our cat would probably eat the scapes and then wander around reeking of garlic.)

  27. Another Karen says:

    “Live a little. And when in doubt, deny everything.”

    Great advice! And it applies to more than garlic scaping, I’m sure.

  28. Diane says:

    They are gorgeous! I never knew they grew like that! I definitely need a place to start a garden! lol

  29. I am now educated on the beauty of garlic — who knew that it wasn’t just a tasty treat. And I think you have a stealing problem…..just sayin’ ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Jen A says:

    Ohhh, Horders …. ahhhh. It’s the tv version of a black hole. I got sucked in and couldn’t find my way out. Watched 4+ episodes in a row one night in my hotel room on biz travel, at the expense of a proper night of sleep. It’s positively fascinating entertainment.

    Btw, niiiiicse scapes, Karen.

  31. Cynthia says:

    So beautiful and unique.

  32. Mary says:

    We saw bunches of garlic at the Farmer’s Market for 2 dollars…my hubby asked…what are those for? I can give him the answer now….thanks, your pictures are amazing!

  33. Shauna Rudy says:

    Uh oh. The white tulip table? Did your niece steal it back?

    • Karen says:

      Yes. ๐Ÿ™ Yes she did. I tried to convince her it was ugly and horrid just last week. That she needed to throw it out immediately. She didn’t buy it. ~ karen

      • Shauna Rudy says:

        So sorry. The nerve! It’s as if she thinks that it was technically hers, even though it was in your home.

  34. Liz S. says:

    Love it! We recently snuck over to a neighbors garden to take help ourselves to a few veggies while they were on vacation. My theory is that if we didn’t take the low lying veggies that they’d either rot in the sun of the rabbits would eat them. So they might as well make it to our dinner table!

    • Karen says:

      Indeed. I do the same thing with flowers. And if a house goes for sale with no owners in it … and they have flowers in their garden … heh heh. Yup. ~ karen

  35. Kim says:

    I love that you watch Hoarders. I find myself identifying with some of their crap that they want to keep to “make something” with. But on the whole watching them makes my house feel alot cleaner without the effort of acutally cleaning.

  36. Shauna says:

    I love the idea of planting things you wouldn’t think of in your front yard. We actually planted 4 wine grape vines in our front yard – as a sort of natural fence (it’s on the side bit of our yard) and we love it. The neighbors all comment on the ‘coolness’ of our yard. My husband did it all and blogged all about it on his own blog, urbanvining.com. I love these garlic scapes, and look forward to the fall post on how to grow them;)

  37. Sharon says:

    If you cut the scapes does it affect the growth of the garlic bulb?

    • Karen says:

      Sharon – Yes. You’re supposed to cut the scapes off. Taking them away directs the plant’s energy to the bulb, allowing it to grow bigger. ~ karen

  38. Paula says:

    Hmmm.. loving me some scapes. Good reason to dig up the weeds and make some room. The thing under the ground would probably be good too.

    But, I’m more interested in what’s in that Mason Jar! Looks tasty. Drinks with leaves in them are always better for you.. no?

    • Karen says:

      Paula – I was wondering who was finally going to ask me about that drink! It’s just water and ice with mint leaves. Pretty much just for looks. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ~ karen

  39. Linda says:

    Those are so beautiful! I like that one of them looks like a pointing finger.

  40. D'Ann says:

    Totally with you on the drinking from a mason jar! I love sipping on iced green tea all day long, and hate having to constantly refill. SO, I steep my teabags in mason jars for a ‘concentrate’, cooled in the fridge, that I can add to an ice-filled mason jar with a dash of lemon juice. Also wonderful with mint leaves.

    I am offten accused of sipping moonshine by strangers who see my jar of tea! A source of constant amusement!

  41. .kat says:

    .so so so funny .that was my choice and pick of the week for my ‘flower of the week’ too

    .great to see and meet

  42. Annie says:

    This blog is some serious freaking awesome. And your flower arrangements are actually beautiful, I LOVE the modern one.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Annie! I guess that’s not so much an arrangement as it is garlic scapes stuck in a skinny vase but … whatever. ~ karen!

  43. Missy says:

    You are just hilarious… I love reading your blog! I’m totally inspired by your garlic scapes – can’t wait to plant some garlic!! We loved this so much we posted a link: http://ificould-ificould.blogspot.com/2011/07/garlic-scapes.html

    Thanks for sharing!
    Missy & Kimi
    if I could…

  44. Emily says:

    Found your blog through Centsational Girl… you are consistently hilarious and informative, a perfect combination.

    The scape arrangements look great. Contemporary and Casual were my faves. Now I’m tempted to stick a bulb of garlic in a pot.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Emily! I’m happy to hear you found me through Centsational Girl (who I love) and that you stuck around! ~ karen

  45. Do you cut the scapes off at the ground after they reach a foot or more? Or were you just waing on getting the scapres os they’d look good on your table? I am trying to get some fabulous ideas for a bridesmaids luncheon I am hosting on New Years Eve,eve. All ideas accepted!!

    • Karen says:

      Debbie – The scape I took off was the right size and time to do it. You don’t pinch/cut them off all the way to the ground. Just until the stem of it meets the leaves of the garlic plant. ~ karen

  46. Tigersmom says:

    I can’t belive you’ve never made iced tea from scratch! Finally I have done something that you haven’t! It is ridiculously easy by the way. Do you even drink iced tea or is it just Diet Coke?

    And I once pulled up a different type of garlic that had blooms that looked like alliums (maybe they were alliums) because they were so pungent I couldn’t hang out in the backyard. Is this why you snuck them into your neighbor’s yard?

  47. Lu Ann says:

    To think of the missed opportunities when my dear neighbor planted her garlic in lieu of a fence! Right there along the sidewalk. I mean, I walked by with my kids every day – sometimes twice a day! My kids even fondled the scapes.

    Ya know, tonight is not just a full moon, it is the Harvest moon…

    Umm, gotta go.

  48. kobi says:

    so nice to see someone LIVE A LITTLE! I hate that people take life so seriously, and I feel like I would love your neighbor! Thanks for the laugh today ๐Ÿ™‚

  49. A Possilbe Neighbor says:

    The only thing I “ever” did…. was, you know how there is always that person on the street that uses fake flowers? And they fade in the sunlight and look even more tacky? Yeah, we had that…. as the neighbor across the street from them always complained, I creeped over in the dead of night (stole those nasty flowers) wrapped them up for a Christmas gift & gave the to the neighbor that would complain ๐Ÿ™‚ tee hee

  50. Sonja says:

    I love this post about garlic planting and using scapes for decorating! Thanks a million for the information. When I plant the cloves, and while their roots are growing, should I water them? I live in South Mississippi, USA and our winters are very mild, but we have an occasional overnight freeze. Thanks again for the delightful post. It made me smile…. Sonja

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sonja – You’re best to check with other garlic growers around you to see what the best variety is to grow. Most people in the south grow softneck varieties which don’t require a dormant period. People who experience an actual “winter” grow hardneck varieties. These grow the same sort of way tulip bulbs do … meaning you have to plant them in the fall so they go through the period of a winter cold. The warmth of spring that comes after the winter signals to the bulb that it’s time to start growing again. I’ve never worried about watering my garlic. In my area, whatever falls naturally is enough to allow the garlic to grow. Good luck! ~ karen

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