Spring is here

Spring is here

Meteorologists conventionally define each season as three months long and spring in the UK as March, April and May. The spring Equinox is on 20 March 2015 – this is when the day and night are approximately the same length. In the southern hemisphere, 20 March is the date of the autumn equinox.

In temperate parts of the world, spring is the season that follows winter and is associated with the fresh growth of vegetation, germination of dormant seeds, resuming of activity in hibernating creatures and the start of animal and plant reproduction. (thanks Woodland Trust for this description)

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I love spring, the little shoots coming up through the soil, planting seeds ready for summer salads, wild garlic in the woods, the birds singing happily in the sunshine, those warm balmy afternoons where you can leave your coat at home and it’s still cold enough at night for blankets and hot chocolate.

Migrant birds return home and all the wildlife is ready for new birth, lambs frolics gayly in the fields and nests are built ready for chicks. It’s so magical, you can literally feel the tingle and pulsation below your feet.

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Foraging

Nettle leaves are a surprisingly versatile ingredient and are reputed to be a great super food that’s rich in iron and vitamins A and D and packed with minerals.

Pick the top tips – they’re tender and give the best flavour.  With a deep green flavour, it is robust like spinach. You can use nettle in salalds or to make tea and soup. You can dry the leaves to keep for the rest of the year too.

It’s an unmistakable plant familiar to everyone, especially if you have been stung on your bare legs by them. It grows pretty much everywhere and is cleansing for the ground. Just remember to avoid roadside and pesticide-ridden areas. It’s best picked from late February to early June.

Wild garlic is a native bulb that often grows in dense clusters on the floor of damp woodland and along shaded hedgerows. It’s a rich source of folklore and is credited with the ability to ward off vampires and evil spirits.

Both the leaves and flowers are edible and delicious and have an unmistakable smell, you can normally smell it before you see it. The flavour is mellower than that of shop bought garlic and can be used in many ways. Make it into soup, add it to new potatoes with butter, whizz them into a wild garlic pesto or use to infuse olive oil. They are also delicious in salads and sandwiches.

Very common throughout woodland in England. Leaves appear as early as February and are best picked before the flowers have died (usually early May). Its white, star-like flowers make an appearance in April. The flowers should be kept for fresh foods like salad, they have a more peppery intense flavour than the leaves.

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Join in with the bluebell survey by The woodland trust.  Your records will help to monitor the status of the UK’s bluebells over time and will help them to secure the future of native bluebells and their woodland home.

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