Thursday 19 May 2011

Foraging in a suburban garden

Wild plants in a suburban garden
Visual Athletics Club: Down the bottom of the garden, 2009

I've been foraging - unfortunately without my camera to share the specific spoils of my labour. But this is the garden wilderness where the riches are recovered. This week my exploits include stepping gingerly to avoid nettles and bumble bees to pick fat, juicy, wild strawberries, also claiming the last tender shoots of broccoletti a taglio which has sprouted on an a recently cleared bramble patch, and climbing high to gather elderflowers.

We picked enough flowerheads for three litres of elderflower cordial and left the rest for later on in the summer when we will combine the berries with vodka and sugar to make a wonderful hedgerow liqueur.

The sterilisation of the natural landscape to make way for new housing developments where trees, shrubs and even grass have been usurped by decking, and paved driveways means that wild food grows in increasingly inhospitable spots - coerced by this onward march of  progress. Overstretching on a step ladder to reach the best flowerheads, the desire to just gather that little bit more and the knowledge of when to stop is all part of foraging. But the rewards are incomparable to those of the soulless exercise of visiting the supermarket. 

The simplicity of the process of combining the gently fragrant flowerheads with water, sugar, lemon and citric acid - the alchemy of an infusion to provide a homemade cordial is a wonder to practice and a joy to behold.

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