There are some beautiful plants coming out in the mild weather, lots of wild garlic down by the small streams and river paths. This year was the earliest that I have ever seen it growing, I even noticed some flowers in January.
This path, including some steep steps up to the cliff above Wild Pear Beach, is a fantastic one to get the heart rate going. A quick run up here and you’ve done your exercise for the day!
There are some Alexanders growing at the bottom of the steps. The leaves are edible and have a strong taste, they are good added in small quantities to salads and can be cooked up a bit like spinach. Remember to go with someone who knows their plants when you first start to forage as this plant can look a bit like Hemlock which is very poisonous. It is reputed to be the plant that killed Socrates and while it is wonderful to add a few wild greens to our salads it would be sad to die in the process.
Galium Aparine: ‘Cleavers’ or ‘Goose Grass’ are it’s common names are coming up in the hedgerows, often under the brambles at this time of the year. This is the plant that ‘cleaves’ or sticks to your clothes when you walk and it also has tiny round burrs that cling as well. They often become caught up in dogs fur. It is a great plant for unclogging the body of what it has been clinging to in the lymphatic department. We add a small amount to juice on our naturopathic cleanse weeks for this purpose but it is not a plant that I would add to salads as it would have too strong a medicinal reaction.
The beautiful flowers of yellow gorse smell of coconut if you get close, especially if the sun is out but, you do have to be careful not to spike your nose on the thorny leaves! just the flowers, not with the beige coloured husk are a colourful addition to salads.
This is what I call a ‘stream path’ they are very common in Devon. We had a guest who I pointed this way out to on the map, when she got back from her walk I asked her if she’d found the path and she said she’d come to a gate and seen a stream. This is one of those paths, with a stream running down it from the hills above, on a wet day.
These are the new leaves of the wild watercress which grows abundantly. It is important to choose carefully where you are going to pick it as it is not good to have the run off from a sheep field directly above it or running into it. Visitors can ask us where it is safe to pick.
These are the rosettes of leaves that develop on the water cress when it is mature and the flower grows out from the middle. I always say thank you to the plant as I pick the leaves. The patch that I pick from has become bigger and bigger over the years and now is really lush and abundant. It is really delicious in salads, smoothies and juices.
These gorgeous little violets with their heart shaped leaves grown in many of the banks around here. Traditionally they were used and still are as cake decorations: ‘parma violets’ crystalised with lots of sugar. I love their scent.
Here is Stewart with a beautiful bank full of violets.