Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Gift

HOW lovely to have a child to remind you of the earth's beauty.

How lovely to have grandparents that will fly half way around the world to share in your discovery.

In gratitude for both.

Friday, March 25, 2011

More Spring Edibles

THE woodlands behind our house erupt into a marvellous sea of blue just about now. We had to look up what the flower is: Dame's Rocket. More exciting - it's edible! It's actually considered invasive, though hard to believe, as it looks so beautiful brightening up the woods. Only the petals should be eaten and we tried them in a salad. The flowers also pressed nicely and we look forward to using them for crafts when they are fully dried.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Foraging of the Year

TODAY we harvested from our garden - and we haven't even planted our vegetable garden yet! The plants we harvested are often called weeds, which, as 'plants growing in an undesirable place' (i.e. the flower bed) they were to us too. 'Undesirable plants,' however, they were not.

Yellow wood sorrel has compound leaves divided into three parts, each shaped like a heart. In England it's also known as cuckoo sorrel, because its small yellow flowers bloom when the cuckoo sings. The delicate leaves close at night and supposedly when it's about to rain too. Most of all they have a delicious lemon flavour and are great for snacking.

Chickweed is one of the most common edible 'weeds' and has a tiny white star-shaped flower. The leaves and flower buds are hairy. It's very nutritious and a good addition to salad.

And today we found some tiny shoots of pokeweed! See here for previous adventures with this leafy green vegetable. I have to admit this is more fun to harvest than to boil twice, but somehow it is reassuring to know that we can eat from the garden/the wild just by knowing what to look for. However far so many "foods" in the supermarket are from their original state, it is still possible to eat the healthy way of our ancestors. Providing, of course, your backyard is not sprayed with pesticides :-)

Photo credit: and Emily Porter

Spring Scents

EVERY spring our whole back garden is imbued with an incredible scent. It took me a while to figure out it comes from a huge holly bush right at the back of the garden. Holly is typically thought of during the winter months, particularly around Christmas, but the splendour of its blooms and their fragrance also make quite a spring statement. Holly is a dioecious plant, meaning each plant is either male or female. Only the females bear berries, and only when a male plant is located within about 30'.

This tree of ours is male, its flowers having the honour of pollinating several female holly bushes elsewhere in the garden so that they may develop the familiar red berries. The clusters of tiny white flowers grow along the branches, their scent attracting bees and winged creatures of every kind, who are all too eager to buzz to the next holly and deposit a dusting of pollen.

Some more holly facts:
-There are more than 400 species of holly
-If not pruned, some species can grow as tall as 60'
-Berries range from red to black and yellow in different species
-Berries are mildly poisonous to humans, but have been used medicinally for many years
-The tea Yerba Mate is made from a type of holly