Monday, 9 April 2012

Wildflower Survey & Ramsons

This year I am undertaking a wildflower count for the Plantlife charity and yesterday took a walk along all the footpaths in my allocated square kilometre. If you don't know about Plantlife or the wildflower count you can get more info by clicking on this link .
Its very easy to do and you don't need to know anything about wild flowers so I urge anyone with a spare afternoon to register and do the count at least once this summer.
My allocated area is very close by, but an area of fields and wood I have never walk around in the few years I have been here, so I decided before choosing which paths to do the survey along I would walk all of them. You can just do a 1km walk in your allocated square and you can also choose two patches, a central square and a strip, and fortunately my area contains hedge rows (a wonderful display of mayflowers pictured), a small wood and a brook running through it so I have a few options as to what kind area i wish to do in more detail should I choose to do the more detailed study.
I also came across a large wooded hollow next to one of the footpaths that was carpeted in ramsons (wild garlic). However it was the other side of a hedge and on private land so I wasn't able to pic any, besides I have a small plot of them in the garden that I planted a few years back and now also know of a very large patch of them only half a mile from the cottage.
If you have never eaten or cooked with them you are missing one of the best free foods available.
It is the leaves of ramsons that you eat and they have a mild garlic flavour compared with the bulb variety you buy in shops. You can use them as a leaf in salads, shred them and add them to a broth to make a soup or just about any other way you would use bulb garlic. A recent dish I made was a wild garlic and mushroom sauce for a chicken breast, or try stuffing a shoulder of lamb with them for a very seasonal twist on an Easter roast.
They also make a great pesto - blanch the leaves first and make in the conventional way, or use walnuts and rapeseed oil instead of pine nuts and olive oil for a truly British pesto. This will last for weeks if not months in the fridge and means you can continue enjoying them well after their season finishes in a month or so.

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